As Gen Z increasingly embraces social search to discover new products, marketers are finding new opportunities to leverage data and create new organic paths to purchase.

‘Passive’ Product Discovery: How Data Creates A New Path to Purchase

Social commerce is experiencing a boom despite consumers’ concerns over inflation.

According to recent findings by Influencer Marketing Hub, social market value is expected to hit a historic $1.3 trillion in 2023, representing a 30.8 percent increase from 2022, when social commerce sales worldwide added up to an estimated $958 billion. Central to social commerce is targeted advertising relevant to the real-time content and conversations consumers engage with. It places brands within an intimate context of social interactions where interest drives engagement and curiosity in the new is at its peak. Social commerce can create astounding results, as demonstrated by Chinese influencers Viya and Li Jiaqi, selling over $3 billion in goods in a single day.

Social commerce works because it integrates easily into content discovery without feeling like an interruption, per a recent report by GWI.

“As users scroll, they see numerous ads that reflect their shopping preferences,” the report reads, describing TikTok social commerce. “You can even be watching a non-ad related video, and TikTok will pick out keywords for a user to be taken to different results.” According to the report, about 46 percent of Gen Z and millennial TikTok users make an impulse purchase online every 2-3 weeks.

The report shows that most social media users on Instagram, Facebook and TikTok also use the platforms to discover new products. That’s critical for brand marketers seeking to reach Gen Z.  According to a 2022 report by Salesforce, 56 percent of Gen Zers want to hear messaging about new products and services, and 76 percent are interested in sponsored digital experiences from brands.

Yet connecting with Gen Z consumers through content means marketers need access to the right data—insights that help marketers interpret trends and translate them into content or ad experiences Gen Z may want to seek out rather than avoid.


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Marketers Will Increasingly Look To Lifestyle And Demographic Data

According to recent consumer data from Experian, retail marketers are going back to basics and focusing on gaining insights from data that allows them to understand what drives consumer interest (listed as “Modeled Lifestyles” in the chart below) and how those demographics typically behave. This represents a shift in marketers’ use of highly segmented custom audience data last year. As consumers tighten their belts and become more judicious in their purchasing, impulse buys may become less frequent. That makes a deep understanding of consumer interests and priorities essential to understanding where to direct marketing spend.

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The Takeaways:

Brand marketers should focus on what works in social—relevance, intimacy, originality—and match campaigns to the best examples of successful engagement.

Social platforms are gold mines of user-generated content. Tailoring content or ad experiences requires granular insights into demographic behavior, but it also follows some basic common sense.

Social commerce works well because of the social graph—when something works well, tastes good, or makes us feel great, we naturally want to share it. Brands on social should share value, not simply messaging. Products that solve problems, offer new value in an original way or present an experience relevant to trending themes found through social listening tend to resonate as authentic with users. Focus on:

  • Personalization: Social media platforms like Instagram, TikTok and Facebook provide personalized content recommendations based on user behavior and preferences—the invitation to engage doesn’t require any work on the part of the consumer, it just scrolls into view. Marketers can leverage that data to connect with consumers in an organic fashion by ensuring that products or content shared are relevant to the audience’s current needs and interests, as well as to the moment.
  • Authenticity: Gen Z wants to keep it real. Connect with their desire for authenticity by presenting products and experiences like a friend would. Offer content that answers questions, solves problems or presents products that deliver a new flavor of delight that is surprising, unique and relevant to the moment.