COVID-19 drives 700% jump in social media shopping in Australia


Instagram's Shop feature.

The amount Aussies are spending through social media shopping has soared 700% over the past two years, with Gen Z and Millennials leading the way.

That’s according to PayPal’s sixth eCommerce Index Report, which explores online shopping trends, particularly post COVID-19.

According to the report, spending on social media shopping in Australia is up 700%, compared to 2019, with 25% of Aussies saying they now use social media for shopping.

One-in-seven Aussies make a purchase via social media at least once per month.

Unsurprisingly, it’s younger consumers driving this shift, with 42% of Gen Z respondents and 30% of Millennials saying they shop via social media.

The numbers are partly driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw people spending more time at home and scrolling, as well as an uptick in e-commerce activity in general.

However, the past two years have also seen considerable developments in social media shopping capabilities in Australia.

Facebook and Instagram launched their ‘Shops’ marketplace in May last year, allowing retailers to sell directly to consumers. Instagram also introduced a ‘Shop’ tab on its app the following November.

In August 2021, TikTok partnered with Shopify to launch product discovery and shopping services, and the e-commerce provider also recently launched an integration with social media startup Linktree.

The PayPal report also highlighted consumers’ increasing consideration of the environmental and social impact of their purchases, with almost half (46%) of the 1,053 consumer surveyed saying they prefer to buy from brands that act responsibly.

However when it comes to meeting that opportunity, businesses are lagging, with only 28% of the 410 businesses included in the research saying they are ‘committed’ to producing environmentally and socially responsible products.

Generation subscription

PayPal’s research suggests we have entered the age of ‘generation subscription’.

About two thirds (66%) of Aussies have at least one subscription, up from 50% in 2018, according to the research.

Here Gen Z is leading the way again, with 83% in this demographic having at least one subscription.

Some 28% of Aussies have signed up for a subscription during the pandemic.

While subscriptions to TV and movie services lead the way among all age groups, the trend is also catching on for subscriptions to things like pet supplies, wellbeing and mindfulness apps, and toilet paper.

However it should be noted that subscriptions don’t necessarily mean guaranteed income for a business. More than half (55%) of Aussies have signed up for subscriptions and later cancelled, while 23% have signed up for free trials and cancelled when the costs kicked in.

And a word of warning: 19% of Aussies have opted out of a subscription when it became too expensive.


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