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NPD Group: Instagram, Facebook Lead Social Media Impulse Buy Conversions

A new NPD Group survey has found that Facebook and Instagram are the leading online platforms that help convert consumer browsing into actual purchases — and that momentum is expected to continue, in part thanks to pandemic-fueled online sales.

“Social media has transformed from a place of sharing to a place of discovery, and even shopping, particularly as it relates to fashion,” NPD Group wrote in a statement released Tuesday.

In its consumer survey, NPD asked if people made unplanned purchases of clothing, footwear, or accessories while scrolling through social media. About half, or 51%, of people surveyed said that after viewing advertising and other content on Facebook and Instagram, they purchased items.

“The pandemic accelerated the ongoing retail shift from brick-and-mortar stores to online purchasing years into the future,” said Maria Rugolo, apparel industry analyst at NPD, in a statement. “Ready or not, with consumers sheltered at home last year, fashion retailing needed to adapt, and that adaptation had to happen quickly. With this shift, impulse purchasing also shifted. As these platforms make purchasing even easier, with one-click shopping and the ability to buy instantly, social media will continue to gain more impulse-purchase attention.”

Demographically, younger people purchased on impulse items like footwear, accessories or apparel more often, according to the survey, which NPD conducted along with consumer intelligence firm CivicScience. Of consumers between the ages of 13 and 24, one in three people said they are more likely to make an impulse buy, and 12% said they had made a purchase that was unplanned.

Just 6% said they would not purchase from social media sites again, while 17% said they’re not against making a purchase at some point in the future.

In terms of education about fashion brands and retailers, the top online platforms are Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, the survey found.

Meanwhile, though only 2% of people surveyed said they use the platform LikeToKnowIt to educate themselves about brands and retailers, about 52% made purchases through it. Livestreaming also showed a strong result as 47% of people said that’s one way they make purchases.

“We’re closely watching social media engagement options, like livestreaming, as well,” said Rugolo. “While still small relative to other modes of discovery, livestreaming converts to purchases at about the same rate as larger platforms. It’s clear that those consumers who are using livestreaming are engaged by it.”

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