New consumer research has shown that 18-24 year olds are spending most of their time online on social media platforms. These social platforms have evolved to offer a variety of tools and techniques to help users search and discover products, brands and people that could be of interest to them. Why? So that they can keep the consumers within their ecosystem providing two benefits. The first is social platforms being able to monetise each and every possible search and discovery action through paid advertising and secondly to provide a user experience that allows consumers to fulfil more needs within this channel. With this in mind, it’s unsurprising to see that the millennial audience in particular is using social media to research products before purchasing.
The research, conducted by Epiphany, a Jaywing agency, found that almost a third (32 per cent) of 18-24 year olds in the UK use social media for research with intent to purchase, and a quarter of this age range (25 per cent) are making use of video platforms such as YouTube for detailed research before buying a product.
With this new understanding into how millennials are researching the products that they want to buy and indeed, what their expectations of search results and search platforms are; we have a clearer indication of the role social media channels might play in the near future, and where technology could go.
Interestingly, the research revealed that the millennial generation wants to be able to search for products on social media. The results show that searches are relevant to their interests and even their mood, signaling a huge opportunity for brands to take advantage of audience-focused channels like Facebook and Instagram and use the data available to serve this personalised content.
Looking at Facebook as an example, the authentication and integration the platform now offers means that users can essentially have a one-stop shop. The search and discovery technology is enabling Facebook to keep audiences hooked in and meet a number of different needs – what they might want to buy, where they might want to go and products likely to be of interest to them. This, teamed with the finding that 19% of 18-24 year olds state they’re happy to share more personal data in order to receive more personalised and relevant search results, puts social platforms in a unique position to facilitate this value exchange.
How millennials want to search
Younger generations are more demanding than their older counterparts about how they want search to behave in the future, with a quarter (25 per cent) of 18-24 year olds stating that they would like search to learn about their lifestyles and offer them relevant results based on this. Similarly, mood search is likely to be a bigger trend in the coming years with nearly a quarter (23 per cent) of this age range stating they would like search to understand what mood they’re in and provide them with relevant results.
This generation is also more likely to want picture search in the future, with nearly half of 18-24 year olds agreeing they’d like to be able to take a picture of an item on their device and search for it online straight away.
What the future holds
With the advancements in image search, it’s perfectly feasible that a drinks brand for example, will be able to tap into images of users drinking a competitor’s brand to target them with relevant ads.
Equally, imagine the ability to use these images alongside demographic data to create a real pen portrait. Suppose a brand wants to target a working mum, living in the city, who enjoys staying in with a glass of wine. A social platform could create advertising audiences for brands of people who match this profile – not by who they are, or even what they say, but what their images show they are doing, the advertising content can be much more relevant.
Whilst the previous generation may have been suspicious of this ‘big brother’ content, it appears that Generation-Z in particular is much savvier about the capabilities that technology can offer and believe in its potential, as long as they’re getting more relevant and personalised messages and content.