Brand Experience

Social Shopping Surge: Boon for Brands, Risk for Consumers

13 July, 2023

In the digital age, the convergence of social media and e-commerce has given rise to a novel trend in consumer behavior: social shopping. This phenomenon involves the act of making purchases through social media platforms, often during livestreamed events featuring influential personalities. However, this new wave of consumerism is not without its pitfalls, as many consumers are finding out.

A case in point is Ziwei Cong, an assistant professor of marketing at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. After purchasing a pair of sweatpants during a social shopping event, she was left disappointed when the item did not meet her expectations. Cong’s experience is not unique, and it underscores the potential risks associated with social shopping, which include overspending and regrettable impulse purchases.

Recent data from market intelligence agency Mintel reveals that nearly half of all U.S. consumers (47%) have made a purchase through social media. Meanwhile, 39% of consumers have indicated that they would engage in social shopping again. Mintel’s senior retail and e-commerce analyst, Katie Hansen, attributes the growing popularity of social shopping to younger consumers’ increased use of smartphones and social media platforms.

The allure of social shopping lies in its interactive nature, which enhances the perceived value of the products being sold. Flash sales, limited promotions, and the “herding effect” – the psychological phenomenon where individuals follow the actions of a group – also contribute to the rush to make purchases. However, these factors can also lead to overspending and buyer’s remorse.

As such, it is crucial for consumers to exercise caution when engaging in social shopping. Trae Bodge, a shopping expert from, advises consumers to take their time before making a purchase and to step away from the screen if necessary. Meanwhile, budgeting expert Andrea Woroch suggests saving appealing items for later consideration and checking customer reviews to ensure product quality.

Another potential challenge with social shopping lies in its return policies. In some cases, returning items purchased through social shopping can be more complicated than traditional online shopping. Therefore, it’s recommended to review the return policy before making a purchase.

Moreover, consumers should be mindful of their personal privacy when participating in social shopping events. Public comments are visible to all users on the platform, and oversharing personal information can lead to potential security risks.

Despite these challenges, social shopping offers unique opportunities for both consumers and brands. For instance, it allows consumers to directly engage with brands they might not have discovered otherwise. This democratization of commerce can be particularly beneficial for smaller brands seeking broader audience exposure.

In the context of gym marketing, social shopping can serve as an effective tool for gym lead generation. By showcasing their services or products during livestreamed events on social media platforms, gyms can attract more gym members and enhance their brand visibility.

However, as with any marketing strategy, it’s crucial to consider potential risks. Overselling or misrepresenting products through social shopping could harm a brand’s reputation and lead to customer dissatisfaction.

In conclusion, while the rise of social shopping presents exciting opportunities for consumers and brands alike, it also brings about potential risks. As such, it’s crucial for consumers to exercise caution and for brands to maintain transparency and integrity in their marketing strategies.

This insightful coverage is brought to you by Kimberly Palmer, a personal finance expert at NerdWallet and author of “Smart Mom, Rich Mom.