Therefore, social media is likely to find a significant position within this market. However, at the same time it creates new expectations and requirements from the consumers point of view, hence new challenges for the brands and retailers to address efficiently.
YUSEO, specialised in digital customer knowledge since 2001, focused in May and June 2012 on the feedback of UK and French female e-shoppers regarding the social media experience in relation to their online purchases of clothing and fashion accessories.
The slow rise of social networks for online purchase
Between May and June 2012, 5.900 English and 7.800 French female e-consumers (1) were interviewed on the way they relate their “use of social media when shopping online for clothing and fashion accessories. The results can somehow be put in perspective of a first measurement late 2011 on a similar matter which involved some 24,000 online shoppers (male and female).
The first major insight is a still poor level of penetration of social networks within the population of active female e-consumers for clothing and fashion accessories: 30% of them in England do not use any social network as of today, to be compared to 49% in France. The maturity threshold of the two markets may explain such difference.
More important, is that 57% of English respondents involved within the social media sphere do not make any relation with their online purchase of clothing and fashion accessories (against 47% in 2011). On the same topic, there are only 41% of French online buyers acting in a similar way.
Despite a stronger penetration in the UK of the social media within the e-shoppers population, results underline the same pattern in both countries when it comes to how social media is used in relation to online shopping: 80% of online buyers involved with social media make a clear distinction with its use when shopping online.
Ultimately, within the respondents in England, only 13% of them (10% in France) use social networks in direct relation with their research and / or purchase of clothing or fashion accessories online.
The brand ecosystem on social networks / Behaviours and expectations towards social media
When focusing solely on the respondents using social networks as part of their online shopping strategy, 33% of them, in both countries, confirm that the presence of a brand / retailer in the social media sphere does actually impact the way they purchase with it. Also, 36% of English and French e-consumers do pay attention to the links proposed in e-commerce sites to visit the social media pages.
When it comes to consulting the social network pages of the brand / retailer prior an online purchase, 42% of e-shoppers in England (vs 51% in France) confirm acting that way. Also, the split between social networking and online purchasing is clear on both side of the Channel: only 21% of the English respondents (and 24% of French one) are buying from the social media page of the brand/retailer.
What do e-shoppers expect in terms of benefits and animation from retailers / brands to build up the relationship via the social media?
80% of English e-shoppers, to be compared with 90% in France, are mostly seeking discounts on the social media pages of the brand/retailer. The “community” dimension seems more significant on the French market with 36% of respondents, vs only 18% in the UK, expecting invitations to events available on the social media pages (such as private sales).
Finally, 24% of English e-shoppers are looking for gaming, against 27% on the French side.
The brand on the social networks and its “followers”
36% of e-shoppers who are social networks savvy confirm they willingly share their opinion about their online purchase on their social media. Such result may come across as being slightly “disappointing” in accordance to the main purpose of social networks, ie sharing. This insight is to be taken aboard especially by brands / retailers which are increasingly using feedbacks within social media as satisfaction indicators when nearly 2/3 of e-consumers do not spontaneously express themselves on this channel.
43% of the English female e-shoppers surveyed do take into account, when purchasing online clothing and fashion accessories, the opinion of the members of their social network, against 39% in France. Ultimately, the number of “fans” or “followers” of a brand / retailer is a relevant indicator for 24% of the English respondents, in comparison with 27% on the French market.