A new study by Accenture found that the $492 billion global social commerce industry is expected to grow three times as fast as traditional e-commerce to $1.2 trillion by 2025. Growth is predicted to be driven primarily by Gen Z and Millennial social media users, accounting for 62% of global social commerce spending by 2025.
According to Accenture’s report, “Why Shopping’s Set for a Social Revolution,” social commerce means a person’s entire shopping experience — from product discovery to the check-out process — takes place on a social media platform. Just under two thirds (64%) of social media users surveyed said they made a social commerce purchase in the last year, which Accenture estimates to reflect nearly 2 billion social buyers globally.
“Driven by mobile-first consumer preferences and the launch of new hyperlocal social commerce platforms, the emerging success of social commerce in India is a testimony to the power of people and communities,” said Anurag Gupta, Managing Director and Lead – Strategy & Consulting, Accenture in India. “To take advantage of this growing opportunity, it will be crucial that these social commerce platforms offer consumers the right experience built around trust and satisfaction, and broaden their appeal through the use of local languages and video interfaces. Furthermore, brands need to work with a thriving ecosystem comprising platforms, creators, influencers, resellers that helps users discover and evaluate potential purchases.”
While the opportunity is significant for large businesses, individuals and smaller brands also stand to benefit. More than half (59%) of social buyers surveyed said they are more likely to support small and medium-sized businesses through social commerce than when shopping through eCommerce websites, Furthermore, 63% said they are more likely to buy from the same seller again, showing the benefits of social commerce in building loyalty and driving repeat purchases.
Half of social media users surveyed, however, indicate they are concerned that social commerce purchases will not be protected or refunded properly, making trust the biggest barrier to adoption, as it was for eCommerce at its beginning.
Who is Buying What
Accenture’s report found that by 2025 the highest number of social commerce purchases globally are expected in clothing (18% of all social commerce by 2025), consumer electronics (13%) and home décor (7%). Fresh food and snack items also represent a large product category (13%) although sales are nearly exclusive to China. Beauty and personal care, although smaller in terms of total social commerce sales, is predicted to quickly gain ground on e-commerce and capture over 40% of digital spend on average for this category in key markets by 2025.
Among the study’s other findings:
- Consumers in developing countries are more likely to use social commerce and do so often. Eight out of ten social media users in China use social commerce to make purchases for a given category, while the majority of social media users in the U.K. and the U.S. have yet to make a purchase via social commerce.
- Shoppers in China, India, and Brazil care more about features that help them discover and evaluate potential purchases while those in the U.K. and U.S. place more importance on pricing and discounts.
- Trust is more important to older generations than younger generations. Older shoppers emphasize security features and value brand familiarity while younger generations are attracted to live streams and put more faith in buyer reviews.
Accenture Research conducted a series of studies on social commerce to better understand the nature of this opportunity. We designed and fielded an online survey of 10,053 social media users in China, India, Brazil, the U.S. and the U.K. The online study was conducted from August 12th – September 3rd 2021. We also conducted in-depth interviews with shoppers and sellers from those same five markets between May 26th and June 2nd 2021.
Accenture’s social commerce market forecasts were produced using econometric modelling, considering the optimization of consumers’ preferences to accelerate existing market momentum. The social commerce market includes products or services ordered via social networks, regardless of the method of payment or fulfilment, covering business to consumer (B2C) and consumer to consumer (C2C) transactions.