What's the state of social commerce in Canada?

The adoption of social commerce—the ability to shop and buy, directly or indirectly, via social media platforms—accelerated during the pandemic. The vast majority of social commerce today is within the discovery and consideration stages. However, checkout capabilities are not available from the leading social networks in Canada.

Social distancing led to increased retail ecommerce sales worldwide in 2020. In Canada, such sales grew 20.7% last year. And social commerce activity also increased accordingly. We estimate there will be 7.9 million social buyers in Canada this year, almost a quarter of the population ages 14 and older, up from 6.9 million last year. These buyers mainly make purchases by following links to retailer sites from social networks.

According to Shopify’s September 2020 polling, 22% of social commerce buyers in Canada ages 18 to 34 said they had made a purchase via social media in the previous six months. By comparison, 11% of 35- to 54-year-olds did so, as well as just 6% those 55 and older.

Across all age groups, social buying in Canada lagged the global average. In the UK and US, for example, the rate of social buying was 33% and 25%, respectively.

According to a December 2020 Bazaarvoice survey conducted by Savanta, 24.5% of adults in Canada said they were most likely to use Facebook to make purchases, followed by Instagram (17.1%) and YouTube (16.5%). While Pinterest, TikTok, Twitter, and Snapchat also registered some responses, their shares were very low.

When asked about more upper-funnel shopping for the discovery of new products, respondents indicated a similar type of distribution—dominated by the same top three platforms and fragmented across the rest.

Respondents indicated that shoppable images and videos were the most influential in driving them to make a purchase at 20.8%. Other influences were posts from brands they follow (15.5%) and video advertising (14.6%).

Near the bottom of the list were sponsored posts from brands they don’t follow (2.8%) and posts from celebrity influencers they do (2.5%).