Nearly half of online fashion shoppers say social media inspired their last purchase

Photos: @sangriel and @ametov41 via Twenty20
Oct 18, 2019

Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of articles from MarketingCharts, which provides up-to-the-minute data and research to marketers.

Almost half (47.5 percent) of the 2,000 U.S. online fashion shoppers surveyed by Yotpo say their most recent online fashion purchase was inspired by social media.

Among age groups, more than half (55.2 percent) of Gen Z (14-24 years old) respondents found inspiration for the most recent online fashion purchase on social media while 50.6 percent of Millennials (25-34 years old) reported the same. 

Among Baby Boomers, only about one-quarter (27.5 percent) reported their most recent online fashion purchase was inspired by social media browsing.

It isn’t necessarily the Kim Kardashians or YouTube fashionistas of the world driving all these buys. While the majority of marketers find influencer marketing effective — particularly on Instagram — research from PwC recently found that more shoppers were more influenced by reviews on social media than by influencers.

Yotpo’s survey reveals similar findings in regard to online fashion shoppers. Virtually all (98.9 percent) of Millennials and Gen Z respondents (all of whom reported doing at least half of their fashion shopping online) say they think customer reviews are “important” or “very important” in their decision making. 

Additionally, in 2018 Bazaarvoice’s network of retailers reported a 51 percent year-over-year increase in customers submitting visual content with their reviews. This can only help online fashion retailers, as most Gen Z and Millennials respondents in Yotpo’s survey also say that customer photos (94.9 percent) and customer videos (72.5 percent) are important decision-making factors.

Also deemed “important” or “very important” in the decision-making process for Gen Z and Millennials were multiple product shots from the manufacturer (93.9 percent), product videos from the manufacturer (72.8 percent) and detailed product information (71.6 percent).

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Has social media moved beyond discovery to become the primary online purchase driver for fashion? What does that mean for retailers with physical stores? How should they be taking advantage of social media’s influence?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
"Too much emphasis has been placed on goosing social media exposure and courting influencers and too little on how to manage what happens next. "

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15 Comments on "Nearly half of online fashion shoppers say social media inspired their last purchase"

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Lee Peterson

Well, it absolutely is for the Gen Zs and Millennials I live and work with, no question. Most fashion retailers push their wares on social pretty well in my opinion, but it’s more a matter of whether or not they’ve got “it” or not. “It” being not only the merchandise, but who’s wearing it and whether or not the brand’s on target. And therein lies the issue with most of the ’90s apparel brands: they don’t have “it.”

Dick Seesel

“Social media” is broadly defined in the context of today’s consumer behavior, so it pays to identify some subsets. Some shoppers are probably swayed by retailers’ and marketers’ presence on sites like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram; others by “influencers” using the same platforms. A third subset (say, travelers and diners) will pay the most attention to review sites like Yelp! and TripAdvisor.

At this point it’s essential to think about social media the way we once thought about fashion magazines (identifying trends and leveraging celebrity power) or about mass media like network television. The messaging is much more fragmented than in the past, but the goal is essential the same: Convince consumers to spend their money.

Carol Spieckerman
Carol Spieckerman
President, Spieckerman Retail
3 years 1 month ago

Social media’s influence on fashion, and therefore impact on planning and forecasting, has been greatly underestimated. Too much emphasis has been placed on goosing social media exposure and courting influencers and too little on how to manage what happens next. Retailers must determine whether their strategy is to chase immediate demand, intentionally implement planned scarcity or simply consider social media an input for future forecasting.

Cynthia Holcomb
Whether fashion magazines in the past or digital fashion influencers of the present, younger people are always “inspired” by fashion. Inspiration translates into sales of key fashion items for retailers seasonally, benefiting both online and physical world stores. There has always been fashion discovery influenced by movies, culture and, in the last decade, social media. The surveys in this article are generalizations. In the real world of fashion inspiration, especially with younger people, only a few trends will take hold and hit the mainstream payload for retailers. Influencers influence, which makes for good PR. Social media influences buzz about fashion, from which only a sliver of young fashionistas actually “buys” into the influence. Only a few push themselves out of their internal psychological comfort zone to wear clothes to attract fashion attention. The rest home in on ripped jeans, mom jeans, and baggy clothes. And you guessed it, the home run is fashion items that last several years as these key fashion items work their way through the fashion food chain.
Georganne Bender

Social media has certainly made finding fashion ideas – and shopping – easier. Plenty of retail websites show items but consumers want to see the clothing modeled on real people.

Women shoppers in recent focus groups tell us they turn to Pinterest and Instagram to find what to wear next. I follow the hashtag #fashionover50 on Instagram to see what women are wearing; many of the posts utilize the swipe to buy feature. The photos are great and it’s easy.

Smart brick-and-mortar retailers use their social medias to entice customers to buy. And that means showing what to wear, how to wear it, and a link to purchase.

Stephen Rector

Social commerce is the wave of the future – be it shopping via Instagram, customer reviews or using Twitter as a brand’s “customer service department.” Brands with stores should use social media to complement their in-store strategy, otherwise they will become irrelevant to young consumers.

Ken Morris

None of us care to admit that we purchased items because of social media influence like reviews or pop-up ads but in actuality many of us have and it is not just limited to Millennials and Gen Z shoppers.

These ads and posts replace branded sites. Sites such as Neiman Marcus or L.L.Bean, for example, serve a specific audience. A new relatively unknown brand pops up and it can tap into these audiences and market directly to them. These pop-ups are cleverly developed to read our minds, so to speak, and are a very effective way to showcase niche products in fashion. One of my favorites is Naadam, whose cashmere products are sold direct-to-consumer from the shepherd. They capture your imagination with their story and the product is excellent.

Jasmine Glasheen

This study backs up what many of us have been saying for quite some time. Where many retailers go wrong is how they invest in social media: a single celebrity placement or brand event with few photos and even less follow-through. I suggest that every serious investment on social media should have a targeted promotional schedule to maximize its reach on social media. Otherwise great material goes unnoticed by the brand’s core demographics. And nobody wants that.

Another thing worth noting: Micro-influencers can be as effective as macro-influencers when identified and utilized correctly — and it can mean the difference between shelling out $250,000 for an Instagram post by Kim Kardashian, or literally $250 for a post by a local artisan with much more sway.

Jeff Sward

Well said. Turns out there is such a thing as ROI, however difficult it may be to measure.

Casey Golden
3 years 1 month ago

ROI is nearly impossible to measure and still lacks a seamless checkout process. Inspiration does not have a conversion rate or a measurable path to purchase.

Cate Trotter

If retailers with physical stores aren’t already taking advantage of social media then they’re behind. Social media is another shift in the way customers buy, just as the internet was. The important thing to take from this survey is that shoppers aren’t just finding stuff to buy from seeing it on influencers. They also want to see what the “general shopper” thinks.

While brands have spent a lot of time courting influencers, they cannot overlook the fact that most customers know that the photos they see from influencers are not reality. This is why photos and reviews from other shoppers are more important to them. You can more easily see yourself reflected in that person and you trust their opinion more — for the most part you know it’s not bought and paid for.

I also don’t think anyone would be surprised that products photos, videos and information are vital for customers to make decisions on whether to buy. Any retailer who isn’t nailing this needs to take a look at their approach right now.

Ralph Jacobson

Fashion is, of course, VERY subjective. So, why wouldn’t other people’s opinions drive a huge percentage of purchases, right? Like some innovative retailers are doing right now, I would leverage some real social influencers to drive your brand, right now!

Trinity Wiles

I would say social media is now the primary online purchasing driver for Millennial and Gen Z shoppers. For physical brick and mortar, they should see this as an opportunity. Brick and mortars can focus more on delivering a physical and interactive brand experience to customers. An ideal experience would integrate social media and online channels along with an in-store experience.

I feel as though retailers are viewing social media and the physical retail space as completely separate channels when they could be utilized together for promotion, driving traffic to stores, predictive analytics on trends, inventory management based on those analytics etc.

Lantz Starratt
Social media plays such a large role in our lives. In a society that is dominated by what products Apple just released, and what celebrities are endorsing what brands, people place a huge emphasis on one another’s opinion and style. People want to replicate what they like. Social media takes word of mouth and amplifies it to the masses. Americans still love their stores. When more than half of the population of shoppers still want to go to the physical store to shop, the social media campaign should always be supporting that; And in large part they do. I don’t think that many retailers are looking at social media as a separate channel, when almost all organizations have some roles geared towards social media. Smart experiential retail is using social media’s quick and strong influence to sway customers every-which-way they can. Retailers should of course take advantage of it, but be cautious of the ROI on such practices (as mentioned previously in regards to tracking ROI). It is fascinating though the different routes people use… Read more »
Gary Read

In 2018, over one-fifth of the total fashion retail sales in the U.S. were made online. As more and more fashion retailers move their inventory and sales to the web, the competitor and customer data available online – from customer reviews, sentiments and ratings to competitor product and pricing info – will increase exponentially. As product reviews can be artificially inflated through fake reviews submitted by bots and product marketers, social media is still one of the best places to find organic customer sentiments regarding fashion products. Consumers know this, and are also turning to social media to find new products and learn what their peers think about those products. In tandem with internal sales data, customer sentiments found on social media should guide and inform digital, as well as real-world, marketing strategies. Even if a retailer does not sell their goods online, the customer sentiment and competitor product info available online can inform in-store promotions and real-world marketing campaigns.

"Too much emphasis has been placed on goosing social media exposure and courting influencers and too little on how to manage what happens next. "

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