As a marketer of 20 years, I have found it fascinating to watch the Millennial generation grow up. They are digital natives who live with their devices, and social media comes into pretty much every corner of their lives.
But does their social media activity influence purchase decisions? Do the most widely used social platforms yield the most buying power? We set out to give social marketers evidence that they could use to justify social marketing and ammunition to succeed with driving Millennials into their retail and online stores.
A consumer study conducted by Edison Research and NetBase surveyed a sample of 1,005 women across the United States who have profiles on at least one social network. They were asked questions about how they use social channels—including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and fashion blogs and message boards—to get inspired when making fashion purchases, and also assessed on their attitudes toward fashion itself. Categories studied include apparel (casual, career/office, active/fitness, and special occasion), footwear (casual, career/office, active/fitness, and special occasion), cosmetics, accessories (costume jewelry, scarves, belts, etc.), and fine jewelry.
The report found that 28 percent of the female Millennials (18 to 24 years old) surveyed are influenced by the brands and products their friends use, and 24 percent are willing to pay a higher price to be first to have a new product. Blogs and message boards are the most frequently cited source of inspiration, ahead of Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
The key findings about female Millennials include:
- 83 percent percent of 18- to 24-year-olds say they consult at least one social platform before purchasing in at least one fashion category*. For fashion brands that target Millennials, this metric represents a lot of potential business.
- 28 percent are what we call “social shoppers”—social networking women whose buying decisions are influenced by the brands and products their friends use. Millennials are almost twice as likely to be social shoppers as female social media users of all ages, so brands need to optimize their social content for viral sharing.
- Nearly one-quarter of female Millennials are “trendsetters”—social network users who say they are willing to pay a higher price to be the first to have a new product, compared to 15 percent of all female social media users. “First to know” promotions are a great tactic to reach this Although shopping is an important free time activity for 80 percent of Millennials, they are no more likely than social networking women older than 24 to view fashion and beauty as something very important to them.
- Of all sources studied, fashion blogs and message boards hold more influence over Millennials than Pinterest or Facebook across all fashion categories. Sixty-three percent of Millennials look to fashion blogs and message boards for inspiration in at least one fashion category, versus 54 percent who look to Facebook.
- Fashion blogs and message boards are strongest with respect to cosmetics (36 percent), special occasion clothing (34 percent), casual clothing (34 percent), and accessories (33 percent).
- Facebook’s role in inspiring Millennials’ fashion purchases is strongest with respect to casual clothing (30 percent of Millennials look to it for inspiration) and accessories, such as costume jewelry, scarves, belts, etc. (25 percent).
- Visual marketing plays an important role with the Millennial generation. Pinterest is strongest for accessories (34 percent), special occasion clothing (32 percent), and casual clothing (32 percent), while Instagram is strongest for accessories (27 percent), casual clothing (26 percent), cosmetics (23 percent), and special occasion footwear (22 percent).
For fashion brands and retailers, these findings underscore the importance of investing in social channels, both to understand consumers and influence their purchase decisions.