Image above from an Instagram “Shop” channel.
New research from the NPD Group finds that social media is having a more powerful impact on apparel sales than many thought.
To better measure social’s role in product discovery and conversion, the market research company teamed up with partner CivicScience, a real-time insights platform.
When it comes to educating people about brands, Facebook leads the way, chosen by 41% of respondents, followed by Instagram at 35%, and Pinterest at 21%.
Surprisingly, when asked what platforms converted advertising and other content into actual purchases, 51% of the consumers in the survey say content on Facebook and Instagram resulted in buying products.
Only 17% discovered products on Twitter, and just 15% on TikTok.
NPD’s apparel industry analyst, Maria Rugolo, attributed the shift to pandemic-fueled impulse shopping. However, as COVID-19 accelerated all types of digital commerce, “impulse purchasing also shifted,” she says in the report. “As these platforms make purchasing even easier, with one-click shopping and the ability to buy instantly, social media will continue to gain more impulse-purchase attention.”
Amid younger consumers, the shift is even more pronounced, with one in three of those aged 13 to 24 saying they had some recent purchase interaction with fashion on social media.
Livestreamed events -- like a recent Bloomingdale's Jimmy Choo sale over Zoom -- are also becoming more important, even while representing a smaller slice of the discovery pie.
Rugolo says such events are converting viewers to purchase at about the same rate as the larger social platforms. “It’s clear that those consumers who are using livestreaming are engaged by it,” she says.
Other fashion changes are coming, NPD says, including a little more dress-up and a little less athleisure. In a separate report, the Port Washington, New York-based market research company noted a 50% jump in women’s dress sales in the week before Easter.
And shapewear, a category that seemed laughably unnecessary during the sweatpants-wearing months of 2020, is also gaining.
But apparel sales have a long way to go to recover, with NPD reporting a $56 billion decline during the pandemic.
“As more people go back to work, and as travel and other experiences ramp up, dressing up will come back,” says Kristen Classi-Zummo, another apparel analyst for NPD, in the report. “However, we had gotten so used to being comfortable, the pendulum won’t swing back 100 percent in the other direction."
A third of the consumers polled insist that dressing up has become more casual since the pandemic.
As a result, NPD forecasts more spending on jeans, especially the new looser-fitting styles. And while dress shoes may be getting a bump, the market researcher expects fashion sneakers and casual sandals to be big beneficiaries of more consumer spending.