THE INSIGHTS FAMILY I Gen Z and the rise of social shopping

In its latest feature for ToyNews, kids, parents and family research specialist The Insights Family takes a closer look at Gen Z’s spending habits – and what they might mean for brands.

Ecommerce is taking off within the family industry. When kids and parents couldn’t leave the house to browse the shops during pandemic restrictions, digital platforms became a crucial space for families to discover new games, toys, trends and clothes. Even as lockdowns have been eased, the online shopping experience has continued to grow, showing how consumers value convenience and immediacy. Now, according to data from The Insights Family, online shopping has overtaken offline shopping as the most popular way for teens in the UK to purchase new items, with over half of this demographic saying they shop online at least once a month*. There is a clear opportunity for brands to produce authentic digital content which resembles the experience of in-person shopping on platforms which will reach their target audience.

First pioneered in the 1970s, livestream shopping enables brands to demonstrate and advertise their products to their audience via digital platforms. Buyers can watch models try on clothes, play with toys and games and use products, bringing a human element to advertising, marketing and sales campaigns. The Insights Family data reveals that 41% of teens in the UK agree that they would rather spend money on an experience than a product. Livestream shopping adheres to this, with consumers able to actively interact with their favourite brands.

Technological developments now mean that live shopping can be delivered to consumers in real-time and buyers can leave comments on streaming sites before buying directly from the platform, creating an even more engaging experience. The fact it is live also generates a time sensitivity which urges customers to act quickly and purchase the product before it sells out. This supports the instant gratification which many kids have become accustomed to.

Social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok have partnered with different shopping sites, and other platforms beyond social media have also moved into this space, with Spotify announcing a collaboration with Shopify at the end of last year. In the last six months, one third of teens in the UK named Instagram as their most used social platform to follow their favourite shops, closely followed by Facebook (28%) and YouTube (24%). The shop website ranked as #4, demonstrating the importance of social media presence for generating brand advocacy and loyalty.

Social shopping was a natural move for TikTok, due to the nature of viral trends and hashtags such as #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt. The short, digestible format of the videos coupled with the playful and fun tone of influencers makes the platform a very accessible and important app for businesses to engage a younger audience of consumers. With an audience predominantly made up of Gen Z and Millennial consumers, TikTok demonstrates the success of ecommerce within the teen ecosystem. With 29% of teens in the UK using their personal mobiles for shopping in the last six months, having presence on this app is a key way for brands to get exposure and maintain interest. Moreover, teens who say they use their mobile for shopping are +15% more likely to name TikTok as their favourite app.

As well as benefitting from presence on social media, brands can utilise the following of famous influencers on these platforms. Two in five UK teens agree that having a celebrity they follow use a new product encourages them to purchase it. By identifying which influencers resonate with their target audience, brands can market their products through endorsements. Seeing an influencer wearing a new item of clothing or using the latest gadgets had a ‘word-of-mouth’ effect where audiences trust their opinion and look to follow the trends. This trend leads the way for an influx of ‘micro-influencers’ selling their own products via a livestreaming experience, much like a live Etsy store. This promotes a more authentic community, which is likely to appeal to teens since 46% of this demographic value the feeling of belonging when making purchase decisions.

* All statistics taken from the last six months of data collected by Kids Insights (August 2021 – February 2022).

About Tessa Clayton

A former Chief Sub of Red magazine, Tessa Clayton is the Digital Editor of and ToyNews. As a freelance journalist she specialised in writing about parenting and family life, and has contributed to a wide variety of publications and websites including Tesco online, Mother & Baby, Livingetc, Junior, Boots Health & Beauty, Practical Parenting and Get in touch at

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