Social Shoppers Embrace Visual Media in the Fashion Industry

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Customer Experience
Customer Experience
For women, particularly millennials, social media has become an integral shopping tool that allows users to influence one another's buying decisions within the fashion and retail industry.

From bargain brands to high-end couture, fashion is always in style. Yet, while clothing and cosmetic trends come and go, social media appears to be here to stay, bringing with it an increasingly connected consumer base. Shoppers now explore fashion blogs and Pinterest to scope out the hottest styles and advice in the industry, while others take to Facebook and Instagram for feedback from friends. But, as these platforms continue to revolutionize how consumers interact on all fronts, fashion brands and retailers must pay special attention to the impact social media has on their buyers.

NetBase's "Social Channels of Influence for the Millennial Generation" report focuses on how women, particularly millennials age 18-24, employ social media in their shopping endeavors. Conducted in partnership with Edison Research, the study polled 1,005 women, including 174 millennials, to assess how this increasingly connected demographic engages via social with regard to numerous fashion categories (i.e. casual clothing, cosmetics, accessories, special occasion footwear, etc.).

The following statistics demonstrate female millennial behaviors within the fashion industry as those actions apply to the social sphere:

  • Eighty percent of millennials use social media "several times a day," as compared to 59 percent of all female social users.
  • Of those millennials polled, 83 percent consult at least one social platform before purchasing in at least one fashion category.
  • Twenty-eight percent of millennial women are considered "social shoppers," for their buying is frequently influenced by the brand and products their friends use.
  • Twenty-four percent of those surveyed are considered "trendsetters," as they are willing to pay a higher price to be the first to have a new product. Of those millennials, 22 percent claim they try new products before others they know.
  • While 80 percent of millennials rank shopping as an important free-time activity, they're no more likely than women over age 24 to view fashion and beauty as an essential priority, for 28 percent of all women polled and 27 percent of millennials agree with the statement "fashion and beauty are extremely important to me."
  • For 63 percent of female millennials, fashion blogs and message boards serve as a source for inspiration in at least one fashion category, while only 54 percent seek inspiration via Facebook.
  • Fifty-eight percent of millennials look to Pinterest in at least one fashion category, while 49 percent look to Instagram, highlighting the growing importance of visual marketing in the fashion and retail space.

Key takeaway: Companies across industries are constantly looking for new, exciting ways to engage and market to the socially connected and socially influential. For fashion brands, social media offers users an opportunity to explore trends and gather inspiration. Therefore, companies must come to understand what their target consumers are searching for and discussing on fashion blogs and message boards, as such insight will allow brands to develop more meaningful conversations. Facebook also offers insight into consumer wants and needs, while making it easy for social shoppers to spread the word. However, brands that truly want to jumpstart their social presence must also invest in Pinterest and Instagram, for fashion and retail are inherently social industries, and such visual platforms will only continue to grow in popularity and importance.

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EXPERT OPINION