Instagram is becoming a go-to destination for consumers to shop, especially Gen Z. But with so many brands vying for attention, it’s not always easy to convert customers.
Gen Z is known to be a mobile-first generation, growing up with smartphones and social media platforms at their fingertips, but physical retail is still a big part of how this younger generation discovers brands and products. A 2018 study from Criteo found that 80% of Gen-Z shoppers look forward to going to physical stores, though 75% said they prefer to make most purchases online.
“Up-and-coming brands are poised to see the most success through Instagram [Shopping],” said Evy Lyons, vp of marketing at influencer marketing platform Traackr. “While brands’ existing consumers might not immediately switch to shopping through the app, they are more likely to shop there for a newly discovered brand. The goal for new brands setting up shop on Instagram is to add ease to the shopping process.”
Instagram is still testing its Checkout feature with a select group of brands including Revolve, KKW Beauty, Hollister, Nars and Nike. However, any business can set up a shop on Instagram and tag products in their posts. Those tags lead customers to the brand’s website to purchase there versus check out in the app. Product posts by both brands using Checkout and those without access to it can be added to a user’s personal wishlist, housed under the saved tab. Users just tap the save button on any product page within the app, and it’s added to the wishlist. For some Gen Z shoppers, saving to and building a wishlist leads to spending down the line. That, or adding items to their Checkout shopping cart and then making purchases later.
“I’m always saving [products] in my shopping cart,” one 14-year-old Instagram user said.
It’s unclear whether brands are notified when a user saves an individual product to a wishlist, or if they can see how many times a product has been saved as a business can when a physical post is saved. Fiona Frills, a 16-year-old influencer with 87,200 Instagram followers, said, for her, saving posts is reserved mostly for inspirational quotes, cool hotels and travel destinations. She does, however, click on fashion brands’ ads and product tags, she said.
“I click on ads a lot. For a lot of fashion brands, I’ll click on their Instagram ad, go to their website and see the prices of things. A lot of times, I’ll see something and want it right away, but it’s sold out and then I forget about it. Recently, there was an I Am Gia ad and I loved the clothing. I had never heard of this brand, but I went to their website and placed an order immediately. I bought, like, five pieces and have been wearing them all week,” Frills said.
For Gen Z, Instagram is a prime channel for discovery. A recent report from digital and creative agency Composed found that 60% of U.S. Gen Z shoppers use the platform to discover new brands and products. It also showed Instagram is the top platform for discovery, ahead of Snapchat, YouTube and Facebook. Additionally, a spring 2019 report from Piper Jaffray found that 73% of Gen-Z shoppers in the U.S. want brands and retailers to connect with them about new products and promotions through Instagram. Snapchat followed at 49%, email at 37% and text messaging — an increasingly popular communication tool for DTC brands — at 34%.
“From an advertiser standpoint, there are so many capabilities for targeting on Instagram that make it really easy to get in front of the right person and serve the right message,” said Olga Rangel, social lead at digital marketing agency Adlucent. “Video is not only helpful for upper-funnel [marketing], but it performs better than static images, [in terms of likes, comments and engagement] both in the feed and Instagram Stories. We’ve tested long-form and short-form video and found that, although Instagram recommend shorter videos, we also see a lot of great interaction with longer videos that are one to two minutes long. It’s great for the discovery phase.”
Sabine, an 18-year-old, said Instagram has made shopping so simple that she finds herself buying on the platform regularly.
“It’s just easier than going to Safari and typing everything in when you can build a cart on Instagram and directly check out through there,” she said.