What’s behind the social commerce surge in 5 charts

Though year-over-year growth of social buyers is slowing slightly following a two-year surge, US social commerce sales will continue to climb through 2025. We take a look at what’s driving this growth, which platforms are emerging as leaders, and what social buyers really want.

1. Social commerce is on the rise (in more ways than one)

US retail social commerce sales will hit over $53 billion this year and experience double-digit, although slowing, growth over the next three years to reach $107.17 billion in 2025.

The reason? It’s twofold: The number of new social commerce buyers (driven by TikTok) is increasing at the same time that the average spend per user is increasing.

By 2025, over 114 million users will spend an average of nearly $1,000 a year on social purchases.

2. Meta leads the pack, but TikTok is catching up

Though Meta is the leader in social commerce buyers (driven largely by Instagram and Facebook Marketplace), TikTok is making its way to the top, surpassing Pinterest in the number of social buyers for the first time this year.

TikTok has made several moves this year to bolster its social commerce business, including expanding its TikTok Shop feature to US businesses and making plans to build out product fulfillment centers. It’s also added a variety of tools to help advertisers measure their campaigns more effectively.

3. Younger generations are driving adoption

As expected, Gen Z and millennials are the biggest adopters of social commerce, with about half of each generation making purchases on social.

When asked what drove them to make their most recent social media purchase, 45% of Gen Z consumers said they found products they like, underlining the power of search. However, one-third reported they made a purchase because they saw an ad for it, showing that advertising is just as important.

4. Changing search behaviors skew toward social

Earlier this year, Google revealed that nearly 40% of young Americans (those between the ages of 18 and 24) use TikTok and Instagram as their search engines of choice.

But it’s not just younger consumers: YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok were all listed as places where US consumers start their search when shopping online.

Once again, TikTok’s momentum has continued to pick up speed throughout the year. In May, 11% of US consumers said they started their shopping search on the platform. By August, that number had grown to 21%.

5. People want to buy from brands and retailers, but there may be an influencer sweet spot

While consumers of all generations are most likely to follow and buy from brands and retailers over influencers, influencer marketing is on the rise, with, what else, TikTok leading the charge.

Turning away from celebrities with massive followings, marketers are finding success with micro- (5,000 to 20,000 followers) and mid-tier (20,000 to 100,000 followers) influencers, which will account for over half of all influencer marketing share this year.

Why it matters: Social commerce adoption is on the rise, but it may not be in its final form yet. As consumers become more comfortable with shopping on social media, brands and platforms will need to figure out the best way to capture those sales. But no matter how you look at it, social commerce is here to stay.


This was originally featured in the Retail Daily newsletter. For more retail insights, statistics, and trends, subscribe here.

First Published on Nov 30, 2022