The Changing Psychology of the Social Shopper


By Peter Briffett

The way we shop is changing. From the moment we start our day, we are inundated with information, suggestions and recommendations, through mobile and social sources, online and from our friends and family, rendering social media more important than ever before.

From a business perspective, with consumers increasingly conversing, reacting and transacting through social channels, communicating with customers through social media is key to building sustainable relationships. Recent research by LivingSocial clearly highlights this need, with 68% of small businesses failing to make the most of social media.*

Of the 4.8 million small businesses in the UK, nearly a quarter (23%) earn over £1000 per annum through connecting with consumers on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Research also shows that small businesses are potentially missing out on a staggering £554 million each year by not using social media tools fully.*

So, what defines this new breed of consumer? As well as responding to social media recommendation, there is a strong hunter-gatherer instinct at play, giving some interesting insights into the psychology behind this purchase behaviour. Research show online bargains inspire strong emotional reactions, with 92% of us experiencing a real buzz from discovering and purchasing an online deal. Conversely, 74% of us also experience Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) worrying that we may miss the experience of a lifetime if we do not stay abreast of social commerce sites, and regularly check social media platforms for ideas and recommendations.**

Our propensity to give recommendations to friends and family also has roots in consumer psychology, stemming from a desire to play a leadership role within our online and offline peer networks, becoming the “social discoverer” by suggesting experiences, services or products to the group.

All this combines to remind us that for all our talk of technological innovation, digital media and emerging social networking platforms, it really all still comes down to communicating with people, and learning to speak the same language as our customers.

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