Social Commerce: Is A New CPG Payment Paradigm Here?

It’s widely believed that social channels like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have substantial influence on what people buy. However, the ability to link these channels to sales, especially among CPG brands, has to date been somewhat elusive. With the arrival of in-stream purchases like Facebook’s Buy Now, new tracking enabled by things like Twitter’s acquisition of CardSpring and services like Like2Buy making Instagram shoppable, it’s safe to say that that has changed.

What does this mean for CPG? According to a Deloitte University Press study, “most CPG executives believe that digital commerce impacts the entire path to purchase, from brand awareness and product trials/initial purchases to driving repeat purchases and reconnecting with lapsed consumers." Still, they seem to be dragging their feet when it comes to fully emerging themselves in e-commerce.



CPG companies don’t need to miss out. 

While products like toilet paper or detergent may not have the same interest level as an outfit that can easily compel a direct-from-Instagram order or the same immediacy of coffee that has driven something like Starbucks’ Tweet-a-Coffee program to be a reality, the sophisticated level of personalization available through data partnerships means CPG brands can win by anticipating need and offering convenience.

The key for CPG brands is to be smart about delivering the right creative message via the right social commerce opportunity and making sure that message is informed by what they (or Facebook) know about consumers — things like brand preference and past purchase frequency.

An ecommerce platform is no longer essential to take advantage of social payments. An easy way to incorporate a social component is by partnering with a retailer that does. For example, Twitter’s group of Buy Button beta partners includes brands like @Burberry as well as retailers like @HomeDepot, which sells hundreds of different products from light bulbs to appliances that theoretically now can be purchased from directly from Twitter. Other retailers with a major e-tail presence will likely follow suit. 

Social payments also mean that Influencer programs can be much more effective. Now, not only can influencers create content that helps drive affinity around brands and products, those pieces of content are no longer closed loops. With technologies like Stylinity that make content shoppable, they remain open sales touch points regardless of where content is posted, re-grammed, shared, etc.

Where to be cautious about jumping on the bandwagon? Not all products make sense to sell on social. And not all social selling will make your consumers' lives easier. The key is to think about who your consumer is and how they typically use social channels. In addition, all of the platforms that offer socially integrated payment rely on consumers’ willingness to share credit card data. While these platforms will go through a third party to ensure a secure transaction, consumers are often skeptical of how companies like Facebook are using data – and recent campaigns such as PayPal’s tout security as a USP. However, once details are entered, they don’t have to be again – and future convenience may outweigh concern. 

Bottom line, new technology is rapidly streamlining the journey between awareness and purchase by making payment seamless and easy. With the added context of social influence and real-time targeting available on these platforms, we’ve entered a smarter, more personalized, and more effective world of social commerce that could be a huge game changer for those CPG brands who can find the right place to play.

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