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Social platforms are cutting into Amazon’s product search dominance

The trend: While Amazon remains the top product search channel for consumers, the online retailer’s share is slipping as shoppers increasingly shift to social platforms.

  • 56% of US adults started their product search on Amazon in Q1 2023, down from 63% in Q1 2022, per a survey released this week by Jungle Scout.

Going social: Consumers are increasingly turning to Tik Tok, Instagram, and YouTube to begin their product searches.

  • A February 2023 survey by GWI found social networks have overtaken search engines for Gen Z product research annually since 2020.
  • Among US age groups, Gen Z leads the way, with 43% using TikTok to search for products online, compared with 2% of baby boomers.

Open wallets: Consumers, led by Gen Z, are also making their purchases on social platforms. Almost 50% of Gen Z adults learned about a new product or brand from an influencer, and nearly one-third of them purchased the product, per a Capgemini survey.

  • We estimate that TikTok will gain 9.6 million social buyers in 2023, more than the net increase of Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest combined.
  • Nearly 20% of US adults ages 18 to 34 made a purchase on TikTok in the past month, per a February 2023 survey from Bizrate/Insider Intelligence.

Our take: Social media is becoming a formidable consumer search competitor to Amazon and Google. With the rise of ChatGPT and the growing popularity of social search, we expect consumers to get used to the idea of discovering products across numerous platforms, further shifting consumers away from the search stalwarts.

  • Despite growing talks of an outright ban of TikTok, advertisers haven’t stopped spending. Ben Jankowski, former head of global media at Mastercard, told The Wall Street Journal that marketers are loath to drop a channel that is performing well for them.
  • As TikTok continues to beta test search ads, we can expect advertisers to jump at the chance to spend on them to reach the platform’s 150 million US users.