Brands need to offer exclusives, powerful recommendations, discounts and group-buying to create a more social shopping experience

June 2011: Brands need to understand more about what the consumer wants before jumping into social commerce, according to a new study from Havas Media Social and Lightspeed Research.

The survey - conducted amongst a representative sample of 1007 UK social networkers - found that whilst the industry is hailing social commerce as ‘the next big thing’, it is yet to make its mark on the overall bottom line with the majority (89%) of people not having bought anything on Facebook, and 44% not yet interested in doing so.

Havas Media Social, a full service social media offering which represents Havas Media agencies AIS, 247 Social, Cake and Socialyse partnered with Lightspeed Research to understand consumer attitudes towards social commerce and current online shopping trends.

As more and more brands are looking to incorporate Facebook or other social networking stores into their ecommerce strategies, the research found that more work needs to be done in order to provide consumers with a more ‘social’ shopping experience.

In terms of what would drive people to purchase via a social networking site, exclusivity was key – with one quarter (25%) stating they would purchase a product on Facebook if it wasn’t available anywhere else, and 11% saying they would buy something that was only offered to ‘fans’ of a brand. Almost one fifth (17%) believed they would buy from a social network if it was easier than the traditional ecommerce experience. Trust in brands is essential – with 22% of respondents saying they would buy from Facebook if they could do so from a brand they know and trust.

The research also highlighted a need for more consumer education and reassurance, with 44% of respondents believing that a store on a social network would be less secure than a regular ecommerce site.

The influence of friends in social commerce
The findings show that tapping into the power of online recommendations and the influence of friends is essential to make UK shopping more social. 53% of consumers were more likely to look up information about a brand if a friend had recommended it, and almost one fifth (17%) stated they were likely to buy from a brand if it was recommended by someone they knew. In addition, more than half of respondents were interested in getting together with friends to buy products in services in groups, particularly if it meant getting a discount. This was most popular with men, with 60% of males finding this opportunity appealing, compared with 48% of women.

Driving social sales with deals and special offers

The study also investigated general social shopping behaviours and how brands can maximise on these to deliver greater social ROI:

• It's still all about the money - around 77% of consumers would like special deals from brands that they can redeem through Facebook
• In an interesting development for the behavioural advertising industry, 70% of people would be more likely to buy things on Facebook that were targeted to them based on their interests or previous shopping behaviour (for example Amazon’s ‘things you might like’)
• Over half (55%) would “check-in” to a venue or store via a site such as Facebook or FourSquare to get special deals
• Around half of people(40%) had received special offers from brands on Facebook, with 40% of those people going on to redeem the offer. The most preferred place to redeem this was on the brand’s own website.

What consumers are willing to buy and spend
The survey suggests that consumers will be less likely to spend money on high-ticket items – 65% of respondents stated that they would only ever spend between £1 and £50 on a social site such as Facebook. And whilst clothes, music and tickets for entertainment were cited to be the most likely type of product that consumers would buy on Facebook, only 6% of people believed they were likely to buy a holiday on the platform.

And it may not be in the next 12 months that social commerce revenues account for a significant proportion of total online sales. Over a third (38%) believed that none of their online shopping over the next year will be conducted via a social network, with a further 51% stating that it is likely to account for less that 10% of their online spend.

Are we still ‘liking’ brands?
Despite reports of a decline in audience figures, around half of respondents still claimed to ‘like’ brands on Facebook, with genuine incentives being the most significant driver of this - almost a third (30%) of people like brands to get special offers, with 28% of users liking pages to enter a competition.

The study also found that the most popular reasons to ‘unlike’ or ‘unfollow’ brands were linked to poor community management, with 35% of respondents being turned off by too many posts, and exactly a third unliking because the content had become repetitive or boring.

Amy Kean, Director of Social Media for Havas Media Social said: “Based on industry predictions and the rate of innovation in this space, social commerce is likely to become a reality - but there’s still a lot more work for brands to do to help consumers get their heads around it. It is the understanding of social behaviours - not the technology - that we need to prioritise.

“It’s not enough to simply facilitate purchasing through Facebook, or any social network with a ‘lite’ version of your online store – social commerce must be about creating a truly social shopping experience. Through tapping into the power of recommendation, giving fans special offers and getting friends to buy together, social commerce will carve its own niche, offering something that the traditional purchasing process cannot.”

Ralph Risk, Marketing Director EMEA at Lightspeed Research commented “Social commerce has become a large focus for many brands and it is important that they determine success criteria when defining their strategy. Direct social commerce may not be growing as quickly as some people may want, but referrals and brand awareness can still mean social commerce strategies can be classed as a success for a brand.”

Ends

For more information, contact:

Sushil Mitchell: 020 7393 2478 – sushil.mitchell@uk.mpg.com
Amy Kean: 07739 372042 – amy.kean@havasmedia.com

Press enquiries for Lightspeed Europe
Lucy Green PR Consultant lgreen@greenfieldscommunications.com T: 07817 698366
Ralph Risk, Marketing Director - EMEA
Tel office: +44 (0)20 7896-1950 Tel mobile: +44 (0)787 650 7689
rrisk@lightspeedresearch.com

Information on Havas Media Social
Havas Media Social sits at the very heart Havas Media UK, which is one of the world’s fastest growing media networks.
A full service social media offering, we offer wholly integrated social media campaigns and strategies, working with 4 award-winning UK agencies:
- ais… is a highly inspirational, integrated creative agency.
- Arena Quantum is an innovative, experienced media agency, with its own social brand, 247 Social.
- Cake is a world-famous, immensely adored PR, social and experiential agency.
- MPG Media Contacts is a bold, intelligent media agency which places its social team, Socialyse, at the very core of the business
And combined, they present an extremely powerful, social proposition.
Our access to the very best in creativity, media and experiential expertise allows Havas Media Social to provide the most holistic solutions for our broad spectrum of clients, working across all sectors.
Further information can be found at www.havasmediasocial.com

Published on: 2:04PM on 30th June 2011