Shopping with others is more informative and more fun, resulting in a better overall experience for shoppers and fewer regrets and returns for retailers. And new research is showing that this is the value consumers see in social commerce.
Younger consumers are shopping in new ways that are inherently more social, relying on the advice of trusted peers and influencers to inspire and strengthen purchase decisions. In fact, a research study Google conducted in partnership with Bain showed Gen Z & Millennial shoppers (18-41) are 2x more likely than older generations to say that video and social media were most influential on purchase decisions. The underpinnings of this evolution are the deep relationships consumers feel with creators, resulting in deeper trust in their advice & recommendations. They are the new ‘try before you buy', bringing more joy and humanity back to the digital retail experience. This is the power of social commerce.
YouTube has been inspiring and leading social commerce since the first unboxing video two decades ago. As consumer behaviors have evolved so has the impact and influence of Shopping on YouTube, with creators building a deep foundation of trust with viewers that translates into long-term value for retailers. In a new Social Commerce and Video Study in partnership with TalkShoppe, we found shopping on YouTube leads to purchases people feel good about: 93% of respondents who shopped on YouTube said they kept their purchases1..
A convergence of commerce, content strategy and creator partnership is key to unlock the value of social commerce:
Commerce enablement | Expedite sales with shoppable ads
Reducing friction in the shopping journey from inspiration to buying is at the core of a successful social commerce strategy. For Gen Z shoppers, YouTube content builds confidence that expedites shopping decisions2, with 74% of Gen Z consumers (18-25) saying that YouTube helps them feel more confident in what they buy.3 Connecting merchandising and advertising is the first step for retailers.4 Retail advertisers can already use product feeds on YouTube, which turns video ads into a virtual storefront. When video ads are made shoppable, retail brands see more profitable outcomes. For example, Levi Strauss & Co. used product feeds on their Video action campaigns to reach more customers and drive incremental sales, resulting in an 8 to 1 return on ad spend (ROAS).5
Content strategy | Create with an audience-first mindset
Viewing behavior continues to evolve to become more fluid and multi-format with Gen Z consumers consuming nearly equal amounts of short-form and long-form content. Given this behavior, it’s important for brands to show up for shoppers across all screens by including both landscape and vertical video in your creative strategy. YouTube Shorts is an entirely mobile and vertical experience reaching over 30B daily views and 1.5B monthly logged-in users. Retail brands can be present in this new environment by adding vertical video assets to Video action campaigns. Whether you’re repurposing existing social assets or creating new vertical video – vertical drives an outsized impact. In fact, we found that when advertisers added a vertical creative asset to their Video action campaigns, they delivered 10-20% more conversions per dollar on YouTube Shorts than campaigns that used landscape assets alone. Glossier’s Shoppable Shorts Challenge is a great example of how Shorts is opening up new opportunities for retailers.
Creator partnership | Scale the impact of influencer marketing
Creator-driven, social platforms represent a significant aspect of Gen Z’s lives. In fact, over three-quarters (76%) of Gen Z respondents (18–25) who use YouTube agree that the platform is important to their lives versus an average of 64% for other social platforms6. According to Talk Shoppe, in the countries surveyed, 87% agree that YouTube creators give me the information about products and brands. Since creators play a critical role in how purchase decisions are shaped, finding and partnering with creators who authentically represent your brand and audience is foundational to success in social commerce. YouTube BrandConnect, our in-house branded content platform, can help by using Google audience data to identify creators that connect with your target audience from all influence levels. Commerce enabled social shopping tools were recently introduced on YouTube that enable creators who partner with brands to tag products in video. Building creator partnerships also opens brands up to new innovative opportunities on YouTube as we continue to build a commerce-enabled content ecosystem that seamlessly connects seeing & buying.
Expanding beyond traditional ecommerce strategies in 2023 and beyond will be critical to maintain growth among next gen shoppers. Setting a solid foundation in social commerce today will help retail brands maintain a competitive advantage tomorrow.
1 Google/TalkShoppe, Social Commerce and Video Shopping Study, n= 2000 video viewers 18-64 (US), fielded from 7/25/22-8/3/22. Competitive set includes video (linear TV and ad supported streaming services) and social media platforms (Instagram, Facebook, TikTok).
2 Google/TalkShoppe, Social Commerce and Video Shopping Study, n= 2000 video viewers 18-64 (US), fielded from 7/25/22-8/3/22. Competitive set includes video (linear TV and ad supported streaming services) and social media platforms (Instagram, Facebook, TikTok).
3 Google/Ipsos, YouTube Viewing and Ad Experience Research, September 2022, Online survey: US Consumers 18-25.
4 Google / Ipsos, Global Retail Study, Feb 2019. Base: Total sample (n=14206) Global (excl. China) online 18+ who shopped in the last week. Countries included: AR, AU, BR, CA, CZ, FR, DE, IN, ID, IT, JP, KR, MX, NL, PL, PT, RU, SA, ZA, ES, SE, TR, UA, UK, US, AE, VN.
6 Google/Ipsos, YouTube Viewing and Ad Experience Research, September 2022, Online survey: US Consumers 18-25.