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Social media shopping a $16bn windfall for business

Social media shopping

It may be burning a hole in the pockets of Aussie consumers, but shopping directly through social media is delivering businesses $16 billion annually, ING research suggests.

The bank commissioned YouGov to survey Australians on their shopping habits through social media: so-called “social shopping”.

Among the 1,084 Australian adults (those aged over 18) who were polled in September 2019, it found that shoppers are spending an average of $860 each per year through various social platforms.

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ING said that would equate to some $16 billion across all Australian adults.

According to the bank, one in five of those polled admitted they consider buying something every time they scroll through their social feed, which it said demonstrated the allure for businesses to attract customers through targeted advertising.

Indeed, it found that 55 per cent of Australians have either directly purchased goods through social media, or been influenced by something they saw there to make a purchase later on.

Where are Aussies spending on social media?

The poll suggested that more than a fifth of all social media sales (22 per cent) are taking place through Facebook — well ahead of any of its rivals.

Instagram and YouTube tied for the next highest proportion of social spending, accounting for 9 per cent each. Snapchat and Pinterest accounted for 4 per cent each.

What does it mean for business?

If the poll findings are indicative of what is taking place across the country more broadly, businesses not selling through social media are losing out on sales to competitors that are.

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Most millennials (53 per cent) believe they are spending more through social channels than they were just two years ago, according to the research, while 42 per cent of Generation X and 28 per cent of baby boomers said the same.

A big component of this spending is impulse buys: 34 per cent of those polled said social media makes them more likely to impulse buy, and a similar proportion (32 per cent) believes they would spend less money overall if they weren’t tempted by things displayed on their social feeds.

Another important finding for business was that social media has effectively opened up a new shopping opportunity for many consumers — during their daily commute to work. The poll found that 35 per cent of millennials in particular indulge in shopping during their commuting time.

‘Social media made shopping easier than ever’

Commenting on the findings, ING’s head of retail, Melanie Evans, said that “the recent emergence of shopping via social media has made it easier than ever to get what we want”. However, she cautioned that with such ease comes a tendency for consumers to “unintentionally overspend”.

“It’s a good idea to be aware of the highly targeted advertising often employed by social media platforms, which can increase temptation to buy things we otherwise wouldn’t have considered,” she said.

“If you are focused on saving, try and avoid those impulse purchases and the buyer’s remorse that can come with them. Spontaneous dips into our hard-earned savings all add up.”

Adam Zuchetti

Adam Zuchetti

Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016. 

The two-time Publish Awards finalist has an extensive journalistic career across business, property and finance, including a four-year stint in the UK. Email Adam at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Social media shopping a $16bn windfall for business
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