The HDE online monitor shows: More than a fifth of all online shoppers have already become aware of a product through Facebook and the like and bought it afterwards. Skillful social media presence and advertising can therefore pay off for companies.

The classic online presence via homepage and web shop is standard for many retailers today. However, the virtual shopping world is changing: social networks such as Facebook, Youtube, Snapchat, Instagram or Pinterest are gaining more and more fans and thus also in importance. This also has an impact on purchasing behaviour, says Stephan Tromp, Deputy Managing Director of the German Retail Association HDE: “Many customers inform themselves about Facebook and the like, give product recommendations online and evaluate the retailers. 55 percent of all Germans aged 14 and over use social media. The figure for online shoppers is 90 percent. Almost 40 percent of online shoppers have already become aware of a product through social networks. Around one-fifth also bought the product afterwards.

Facebook has the greatest impact on buying behavior

The HDE online monitor shows that the influence of social networks correlates with their usage intensity. Facebook is the most frequently used channel. 73 percent of all online shoppers are present here. This is followed by Youtube with 64 percent, Instagram with 32 percent, Pinterest (22 percent) and Snapchat (18 percent). That’s why Facebook has the strongest impact on your buying decision. The influence is greatest among the middle age groups: 28 percent of all 30- to 39-year-old and 27 percent of all 40- to 49-year-old online shoppers have already become aware of a product through a person’s Facebook post and bought it.

Younger online shoppers react mainly to YouTube and Instagram

For younger online shoppers, other social media channels are more important: they, especially the 14 to 19 year-olds, gain decision-relevant product information via YouTube and Instagram. With Snapchat it becomes clear that not every online channel is suitable as an advertising channel: Despite very high use of 71 percent in the young age group, the importance with regard to product information with an impact on the purchase decision of less than five percent  is small. According to the HDE Online Monitor, according to their own estimates, online shoppers in the fashion & accessories segment had previously made contact with the product in almost 5 percent of online purchases in social media. Consumer electronics & electronic products accounted for 4.6 percent and drugstore products for 3.8 percent of online purchases.

Tool for addressing specific target groups

The conclusion of HDE Vice Tromp is clear: “Social media has a significant influence on the purchase decision. The market still has a lot of potential.” Dealers can profit enormously here. With comparatively little financial effort, the target groups can be addressed very precisely. The means of choice can be an appealing social media channel such as a Facebook or Instagram presence. Or Facebook advertising, with which the people to be reached can be selected and narrowed down in detail.

Influencer marketing instead of classic advertising

The use of bloggers is also becoming increasingly popular. In the context of influencer marketing, companies employ people who have a high reach in social networks. This tool is not suitable for every target group: just two percent of consumers in Germany have already bought a piece of clothing advertised by a fashion blogger. This is according to a study conducted by the GfK consumer panel Fashion&Lifestyle on behalf of the trade publication TextilWirtschaft. With bloggers, as the HDE online monitor makes clear, companies primarily reach young target groups. This can be very interesting because it is precisely this clientele that often hardly reacts to the means of classical advertising.


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