How Snapchat Users Shop

The mobile platform is making efforts to attract shoppers and ad dollars

Social media is hardly synonymous with shopping, but that hasn't stopped social platforms from positioning themselves as pseudo-retailers. 

Over the past few years, the direct-response "buy button" has morphed into offerings like Snapchat's visual search on Amazon and evolved into a myriad of social ad products.

In 2018, Snapchat has introduced Shoppable AR lenses, Shoppable Snap Ads, Shoppable Story Ads and most recently rolled out Collection Ads it had been testing with brands and retailers like Guess and eBay to all advertisers.

More than one in five US Snapchat users had bought a product they discovered on the platform Snapchat, according to a Cowen and Company survey conducted last year. But not necessarily immediately nor digitally.

Earlier this year, Snapchat launched location categories and radius targeting to bridge online and offline. “Its point-radius targeting is doing exceptionally well,” said PK Creedon, associate director of paid social at iProspect, in an interview with eMarketer.  “Facebook local awareness ads have a similar approach, but to my knowledge, it's not as granular as the point-radius targeting that Snap has rolled out.”

Snapchat recently published a series of insights into how users shop at big box, luxury and apparel stores with an eye toward attracting advertisers.

Big Box

Snapchat users visit big box stores two times per month on average, and users ages 18 to 24 visit these stores more than other age groups Monday-Thursday while those ages 13 to 17 are more likely to visit Friday-Sunday. Additionally, Snapchat users who are big box shoppers are more likely to be fans of burgers (2.9x), cycling (1.9x) and do-it-yourself projects (1.9x) than average Snapchat users.


Snapchat users visit apparel stores eight times per month, with those ages 18 to 24 visiting most often from Sunday-Friday. Users ages 13 to 17 dominate on Saturdays. Apparel shoppers overindex for being into coffee (2.8x), art and culture (2.6x) and theme park (2.5x).


On average, Snapchat users pay a visit to a luxury retailer two times per month, with Saturday being the most popular shopping day and 18- to 24-year-olds visiting most often. This group is more likely to be wine lovers (2.4x), eat vegan or organic food (2.2x) and run (2.1x).

What does this mean? Aside from the potential for Nike or Annie's Homegrown advertising near a Tiffany & Co. store on a weekend, the most obvious takeaway is that Snapchat's audience is made up of Gen Z, loosely defined as being born post-1997, and the youngest millennials.

Much has been said regarding Snapchat's youthful user base. The number of Gen Z Snapchat (and YouTube and Instagram) users has increased more than any other age group this year. According to our estimates, 16.4 million teens in the US will use Snapchat this year. That’s 65.6% of all teens and close to 5 million more than those who will use Facebook and 3.6 million more than those using Instagram.

Digital shoppers ages 20 and younger don't have radically different retail preferences, though. In an April 2018 Piper Jaffray survey, American Eagle Outfitters and Forever 21 ranked in the top five ecommerce sites among teens with 4% and 3% of share, respectively, but Amazon was overwhelmingly favored by most (44%).