Amazon Still Overpowers Google, TikTok Declines, Study Finds

Where do online shoppers start product searches and where do people get information on news? It's been a topic of discussion for years after reports began to surface that 20-somethings were using TikTok to search for restaurants and other information on the site.

CivicScience released trends this week showing significant implications for brands, publishers and news agencies based on ways to advertise and disseminate news.

June data suggests most U.S. adults still use Amazon first, then Google, to research and shop for products online. It also shows a decline of two percentage points in the use of TikTok as a search engine.

Similar to the 2022 CivicScience study, most people using TikTok, Instagram, or Reddit as a starting point for product searches belong to the younger generation, such as Gen Z and younger Millennials. 

But the data shows a steep decline in TikTok as an ecommerce search engine among these younger generations. The use of Amazon as a search engine rose for both of these age groups, to 45% and 44%, respectively. 

Use fell from 18% to 11% among Gen Z and from 10% to 5% among young Millennials, from August 2022 to June 2023. CivicScience cites possible growing concerns surrounding TikTok’s privacy and security.

For breaking news, a greater percentage of young adults turn to social media platforms for breaking news and fewer use social media as search engines.

Where people turn first for breaking news differs based on age. CivicScience data shows close to 90% of adults aged 18 to 34 use social media, compared with 71% of those aged 55 and older.

Gen Z and Millennials are the most likely to turn to social media for breaking news. The data also suggests social media has grown as a news source for all adults under age 55 since Q3 2021.

Data on how different age groups seek news: 

  • Gen Z (18-24):  20% turn to social media first for breaking news. In comparison, 51% favor local or national network news channels.
  • Young Millennials (25-34):  22% of this age group turn to social media first to obtain breaking news.
  • Older Millennials to Gen X (35-54):  16% access social media first for breaking news. They’re also the most likely age group to get news digitally – an additional 32% turn to national or local news websites, while just 4% rely on cable news channels.
  • Baby Boomers (55+):  6% seek breaking news on social media as their first avenue of information, three times less likely than younger generations, with 66% preferring more traditional TV-based news. 
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