Instagram Shopping: The Platform Where Gen Z Will Buy Products

Originally published at https://www.nealsivadas.com on December 19, 2019.

As we approach the holidays and enter the new decade, many businesses are formulating their annual, five-year, and ten-year plans. If Gen Z is not a part of your growth strategy, you are missing out on a huge opportunity.

According to eMarketer, Gen Z will represent 40% of consumers and possess a buying power of $44 Billion by the end of 2020. These numbers will continue to skyrocket as the generation (currently between 9–24 years old) enters adulthood and becomes self-sustaining.

As a result, it’s time that brands start shifting their attention from Millennials to Generation Z, the creative, individualistic, and defiant segment that grew up during the age of financial crises, cyberbullying, political turmoil, climate denial, and school shootings and have no recollection of life without mainstream digital and social media.

While Millennials can take “social media cleanses” because they remember a life before social media, these now young adults, teens, and tweens simply cannot relate. What this translates into is a “digitally reliant” generation. According to a recent IBM survey, 74% of Gen Z spends over five hours a day online. From communication to learning to shopping, members of Gen Z rely on the internet to function in their daily lives, with little tolerance for anything but a smooth digital experience — 60% of Gen Z shoppers won’t use apps or websites that load slowly or are difficult to navigate.

As a result, if you want any success with Gen Z, a superior digital persona is essential to survival. Whether it is your app, website, customer service, chatbots, or social media, you need high-quality digital experiences and transactions. Gen Z simply has no patience for anything less.

So given the importance of digital for Gen Z, how can brands most effectively capture this generation in the current market?

There are many answers, including building out presences on digital platforms such as TikTok and YouTube and promoting diversity and creativity, but one immediate strategy that could transform your business is expanding your Instagram experience.

In a study by eMarketer, 73% of Gen Zers aged 7–22 stated that they preferred brands to contact them about new products through Instagram, with Snapchat following as the preferred method at roughly 50%, and then a drop for email, text, website ads, and tv/radio.

The key to unlocking Gen Z on Instagram is not just about whether or not you have a large following or a visually appealing account. That’s the baseline. It’s how you use Instagram’s business intelligence and features to its maximum capabilities, regardless of whether you are selling clothing, home decor, jewelry, technology, food, beauty products, or travel accessories.

Instagram is slowly beginning to compete with Google and Amazon with Instagram Shop, a feature that allows you to integrate a product catalog with your Instagram business profile and tag products (like you would people) in your posts/ads. According to Hootsuite, already over 130 million Instagram users tap on shopping posts every month. It has been out for a couple years, but Instagram is really making a push for more brands to utilize it on its platform and it truly could become an alternative to Amazon. Below are examples of how these features appear to a customer in a profile or post.

When we think of traditional customer journeys when selling products, there are three main ones to consider.

a) “window shopping”: when the customer is “browsing” through stores with the intent to shop and sees a product that they like

b) “brand-direct”: when the customer enters a store because of brand familiarity and sees a product they like

c) “discovery”: stumbles upon by accident or sees someone else with a product they like

Instagram Shop provides digital parallels to all three of the customer journeys, making it an effective platform for both customers and brands to shop and sell products.

a) Window Shopping: Instagram has a section of its Discover page dedicated to shopping, using machine learning and your data to present a page with products that you would immediately be interested in. It’s almost like intelligence-driven window shopping.

b) Brand-Direct: You can directly enter a brand’s Instagram shop through its Instagram account. Browsing through Instagram’s built-in catalog simulates the store browsing experience better than scrolling through Amazon. Brand pages also already have a feed of posts with potential products as well.

c) Discovery: See a post in your feed from your friend, celebrity, or model wearing, holding, visiting, or promoting something that you like? You can immediately click on the product in the post to see how much it costs and buy it in a few quick steps.

With all three of these digital customer journeys, the shopping experience is seamless and parallel to an in-store shopping experience. If you’ve been following closely, you probably have also noticed that all three customer journeys lead to the same post.

This is where it gets interesting and how Instagram has truly become an effective marketplace to compete with Amazon. As mentioned before, Gen Z needs a seamless digital experience, and Instagram now offers a seamless digital shopping experience where you can purchase products without ever leaving Instagram. Here’s how it works from a customer perspective after you’ve found an item on Instagram that you like.

Once you click on an item, you’re taken to the product page, where you have the options to order the product (main call to action), read the description, add it to your shopping bag, read reviews, share with friends, or view similar products, just like Amazon. For a member of Gen Z, this seamless experience allows everything to be convenient and seamless.

For some vendors, the call to action might even be “proceed to checkout” if the brand has a deal with Instagram to make transactions directly on Instagram, speeding up the experience even more. As a result, Instagram’s shopping experience is just as easy, if not easier, than Amazon and other online marketplaces.

What makes Instagram Shop potentially more attractive than Amazon? With Amazon, you know what you need to buy when you go on there. With Instagram, there is significantly more impulse or “discovery” buying. You might see someone else with something you like, discover a product on your discover page, or might be just watching quality organic content on a brand page and notice a product that catches your eye. There’s no searching involved.

With this seamless shopping experience and direct targeting of common customer journeys, Instagram is a formidable place to sell your product and not just promote it, especially with Generation Z. As a result, you might want to start using other social media to drive brand awareness, but utilize Instagram as a new Amazon marketplace through Instagram Shopping. Global brands such as Michael Kors, H&M, and Adidas already have and if you’re a small business or innovative startup, it could be an effective way to introduce your products and create conversions, especially because the posts are less about brand name and more about “oh, that catches my eye.”

Here’s a link on how to get started with Instagram Shopping for your business and your product before the new calendar year, especially if you’re interested in growing your Gen Z marketing strategy.

This is part 3/12 of the “Find Gen Z Series”, a monthly blog where I detail one social or digital media platform and how to best reach Gen Z on the platform. I am no expert. All my knowledge and perspective is based on my own experience and extensive research. I just want to create an authentic and effective relationship between marketers and my generation. To learn about other platforms in the series, go to https://www.nealsivadas.com/findgenz and please reach out with any questions or feedback.

USC Student. Gen Z + Social Media Strategist. Aspiring Product Marketer. All articles published on my LinkedIn as well.

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