Social proof, a psychological phenomenon where people mimic the behaviour of others, is increasingly influencing buying behaviour – especially in the form of personal product reviews and public presentation of shopping lists in online portals. Famous bloggers and YouTubers act as influencers by discussing products, which their followers then buy. The group factor is especially relevant in online shopping portals, where different retailers present their products to a closed shopping community. Other providers are backing social interaction with customers by offering individual advice online, for instance helping customers put together an outfit.
Social shopping is unimaginable without social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. The operators for some time have been testing the possibilities of integrated shopping tools, which make it very easy for users to buy and sell products on the spot. Facebook alone has 1.87 billion people actively using the platform at least once a month.
Social networks key to purchase decisions
Demand for virtual inspiration appears to be especially high when buying fashion and accessories: 76.5% of German women log on to Facebook for style suggestions, of whom 57.5% ultimately end up making a purchase. Other popular portals for this include Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube.
Pinterest is especially popular. An internal study by Millward Brown Digital in 2015 revealed that 93% of U.S. users had visited Pinterest in the last six months to plan a purchase.
Meanwhile, the 2016 Total Retail Survey from professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers shows the extent to which social networks influence purchase decisions. According to the international survey, 78% of shoppers around the world say that social media platforms play a decisive role in their shopping habits.