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Social Commerce Surpasses $30 Billion in the US

China’s market is still about 10 times bigger


July 6, 2021 (New York, NY) – Social commerce sales in the US are picking up, but the size of the market pales in comparison to that of China, according to eMarketer’s latest forecast on social commerce.

In 2021, US social commerce sales* will rise by 35.8% to $36.62 billion. That’s only a slight deceleration in growth from social commerce’s blowout 2020, when sales surged by 38.9%, thanks mainly to the pandemic-driven boom in ecommerce and increased social media consumption.

Despite strong growth, the US’s social commerce market will be about one-tenth the size of China’s—$351.65 billion in 2021.

The US also lags behind China when looking at social commerce as a percentage of total ecommerce sales. This year, we expect social commerce to make up just 4.0% of the US retail ecommerce market, compared with 13.7% in China. The gap between the two countries will remain fairly stable through 2024, when social commerce will make up 5.0% of US retail ecommerce sales versus 14.5% in China**.

“US marketers can look to China as a roadmap for social commerce’s development as many of the trends that will drive its growth, like livestream shopping, originated in China,” said eMarketer senior analyst at Insider Intelligence Jasmine Enberg.  “Keep in mind, however, that it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison. The social and ecommerce landscapes in the US are far more fragmented than those in China, and consumer behavior and attitudes toward digital shopping, social media consumption, online privacy, and payments are different as well.”

Our inaugural forecast shows that Facebook is the No. 1 social commerce platform in the US; we expect 22.3% of US internet users, or 56.1 million people ages 14 and older, will make at least one purchase on Facebook in 2021. Meanwhile, 12.9% of internet users, or 32.4 million people, will make a purchase on Instagram, compared with 5.6% of internet users, or 13.9 million people, on Pinterest.

Another reason for China’s strong lead in social commerce, of course, is the sheer number of social buyers in the country. In 2021, we expect 424.4 million people ages 14 and up in China to make at least one social commerce purchase during the calendar year, versus just 90.2 million in the US.


*We define social commerce as products or services ordered via social networks, such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, WeChat, Line, VK, and others, either by buying directly on the social platform, such as via Instagram Checkout or WeChat Mini Programs, or through clicking links on the social network that lead to the retailer’s product page to complete the purchase. It also includes transactions that were agreed to on social platforms but where payment took place elsewhere, such as C2C transactions on Facebook Marketplace.

It excludes travel and event tickets; tips and digital gifts; subscriptions; payments such as bill pay, taxes, or money transfers; food services and drinking place sales; and gambling and other vice goods sales.


**Our forecast for social commerce sales in China excludes sales on Pinduoduo, a group-buying platform that allows users to round up additional buyers via social media to drive volume discounts on products. That’s because we consider Pinduoduo to be an ecommerce platform, rather than a social network. We do, however, include transactions stemming from Pinduoduo’s WeChat Mini Program, its online storefront embedded into the core WeChat app.




Insider Intelligence forecasts and estimates are based on an analysis of quantitative and qualitative data from research firms, government agencies, media firms and public companies, plus interviews with top executives at publishers, ad buyers and agencies. Data is weighted based on methodology and soundness. Each eMarketer forecast fits within the larger matrix of all its forecasts, with the same assumptions and general framework used to project figures in a wide variety of areas. Regular re-evaluation of available data means the forecasts reflect the latest business developments, technology trends and economic changes.


About Insider Intelligence 

Formed in 2020 from the combination of eMarketer and Business Insider Intelligence (BII), Insider Intelligence aims to be the world’s leading research service focused on digital transformation. Insider Intelligence enables thousands of global industry leaders to understand the critical trends and developments affecting their business in the short and long term. Each year, Insider Intelligence produces nearly 300 reports, 7,000 charts, 1,500 newsletters, and 200 forecasts across the Advertising & Marketing, Consumer Demographics, Social Media, Video, Mobile, Ecommerce & Retail, Telecoms & Technology, Financial Services, and Digital Health industries. Insider Intelligence is owned by European media giant Axel Springer S.E. 


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Douglas Clark
Global Director of Public Relations

Corinne Weir
Public Relations Coordinator

Posted on July 8, 2021.