Revealed: the new generation of Britons driving the social shopping revolution

Revealed: the new generation of Britons driving the social shopping revolution
London’s Upton Park - the UK’s social shopper heartland

London, 15 September 2011 – Before you make a purchase, is your first action to jump on Facebook and seek your friends’ opinions? Care more about what’s trending on Twitter than what’s trending in a magazine? Enjoy getting deals on Facebook rather than always shopping direct on company websites? Then you are part of a new group of consumers who are changing the face of British retailing: social shoppers.

As an ever increasing roll call of brands race to build their presence on social networks, with many commercialising their presence in the form of Facebook shops and exclusive deals, Experian, the global information services company, is today publishing fresh insight into exactly who and where the much sought after consumers are and who are most engaged with this new way of shopping.

The research, based on a survey of two thousand people and analysis from Experian’s consumer classification tool, Mosaic, paints a revealing picture of the social shoppers who now make up 15 per cent of the population. According to Mosaic, the three consumer groups who are driving social commerce are New Homemakers, Terraced Melting Pot and Upper Floor Living.  These consumers live in small houses or flats in ethnically diverse or up and coming, urban areas. Their disposable income is limited which means they like to spend their money in an informed way through the advice of their peers and brands that offer quality yet value for money and convenience are popular amongst them. For this group, social networking is a way of life – not only to keep in touch with friends, but increasingly to find the best bargains online.

Experian Hitwise data shows that food, technology and fashion are the sectors benefitting most from this new type of shopping with Tesco, Apple and Topshop amongst the most popular websites visited by this group. Social shoppers represent a significant proportion of visitors to these websites, 18 per cent of visitors to are social shoppers. This provides a significant challenge to marketers to ensure their online websites are compatible with social media.

None too surprisingly, online retailers also receive significant traffic from social shoppers. Just under a quarter of all visitors to are social shoppers, whilst they also make up a significant proportion of the population visiting and amongst others.

London has been revealed as the social shopping heart of the country, with the top 30 areas all falling within the capital. East and South London in particular have a higher proportion of social shoppers than anywhere else in the country, with  hotspots focused around the area known as the Silicon Roundabout, the Olympic Park area of Stratford and Peckham in the south east, where bargain-hunters are turning to social media for their deals.

Top UK Social Shopper Hubs (% of local population who are social shoppers)

1. Upton Park (77.4%)
2. Hackney (76.1%)
3. East Ham (72.0%)
4. Peckham (69.3%)
5. Stratford (68.6%)
6. Canary Wharf (67.3%)
7. Surrey Quays (66.9%)
8. Elephant and Castle (64.4%)
9. Beckton (64.3%)
10. Barking (59.4%)

Outside London, towns in the North West dominate the social shopper league table, with Blackburn, Burnley and Oldham all featuring highly in the rankings of the 1,965-strong list of areas:

Top UK Social Shopper Hubs Outside London

1. Birmingham
2. Blackburn
3. Accrington
4. Burnley
5. Rochdale
6. Oldham
7. Manchester
8. Salford
9. Halifax
10. Glasgow

Minehead in Devon, Aberystwyth in Wales and Keswick in the Lake District are among the areas in the UK with the smallest proportion of social shoppers – with at most 1 per cent of the local population in these areas are social shoppers.

Nigel Wilson, Experian’s Managing Director of Marketing Information Services, UK&I said: “When you consider that one in six web pages viewed in the UK is a Facebook page, it makes absolute sense for retailers to embrace social shopping.  Each brand will have its own approach but understanding who social shoppers are and where they’re concentrated in the country could prove vital in the quest to capture the social pound. Retailers should see online as an opportunity, not a threat.”

Paul Smith, Managing Director of Techlightenment, an Experian company which helps brands with social media marketing, said: “Social commerce might only make up a small proportion of retail sales today but the growth potential is massive.   Already, four per cent of the UK’s 30 million Facebook users have purchased products from a brand’s Facebook pages – and that figure is set to rise.  Not only that, but the consumer recommendations on social media have massive influence with one in 10 consumers using their mobiles in store to check for social media endorsements before making a purchase.  It’s vital that brands monitor this sentiment and embrace the opportunity that social commerce represents.”

Techlightenment’s advice for retailers
1. Don’t just replicate your website in Facebook. You have a different form factor to contend with and you have to design with the right column of your page (the ad and sponsor area) in mind.
2. Generate fans and likes – without this anything else you do is wasted. Use a fan acquisition and analysis service to boost your Facebook community and drive traffic to your website.  Research shows each new fan drives 20 additional visits to your website.
3. Don’t bombard your page with feeds and offers; instead create intelligent, well-targeted offers with one-to-one personalisation. There is enough data and technology now to help you achieve this.
4. Relevance has always been essential in marketing, Social networks are no different. Create content which chimes with fans’ interests.
5. Use your website and Facebook presence to drive traffic to your store as well as encourage online sales.