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Intent v Impulse

The role of social in the shopping journey is changing

With ubiquitous placement at drugstore and supermarket checkouts, an earworm of a jingle, and a 25 cent price tag, Juicy Fruit might have been the ultimate impulse buy. Few would make a dedicated trip for the yellow-label gum (far too much of which is likely still living in my stomach decades later), but it still found its way into the order.

This topic of intentional v. impulsive shopping is a fascinating one, and we’re seeing an evolution in how these two types of purchases are playing out across ecommerce.

And it centers on where shoppers start shopping.

Search engines have long since monetized those intentions through paid search, and organic search is of course a critical function for any brand or retailer to optimize.

The marketplace heavyweights - namely Amazon, but increasingly - are a de facto shopping spark, as surgical shoppers go where the selection is.

The social platforms have generally been scroll > shop. The DTC craze has certainly grown in the rich soil of social, but the reputation has not been one of intention, but of impulse.

Jungle Scout’s recent consumer trends reports indicate that social may be putting down shopping roots.

When factoring shopper responses, the share of shoppers’ searches across  three primary sources is evolving:

  1. Marketplaces: 42% of searches start on Amazon or

  2. Search: 18% on search engines (yes, this seems low)

  3. Social: 39% of shoppers start in social (youtube, fb, insta, tt, pins)

Marketplaces and Search scream intention.

Social is new to this intention, though.

If shoppers consistently begin their search there and continue to reduce their reliance on search engines, might we see social commerce initiatives - which have been rebooted more than the story of Cyrano de Bergerac - actually taste success for once?

While we have yet to see in-platform social conversion at any sustainable scale, social’s massive influence on shopping will certainly give rise to another wave of social commerce attempts.

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