Social Media and Millennials: How They Shop

Social Commerce: Where Millennials Shop On Social Media

Millennial shops without social mediaDoes your social media marketing appeal to millennials?

76 million millennials born between 1980 and 2000 don’t like old school promotional marketing.

So skip the promotion. Use social media and social commerce.

By 2015, they’ll have $2.45 trillion of purchasing power worldwide across multiple channels. 

If this market sounds attractive, then modify your marketing approach to appeal to the way they shop.

Having grown up with computers and social media, millennials select the information they want to consume themselves. (Here’s more millennial data regarding shopping and finances to help you.)

To help you understand their online shopping habits, the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth’s Fall 2013 research, Millennials Drive Social Commerce, examined millennials and social commerce, to see how this cohort purchases using social media, specifically Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. (Understand that social commerce offers a wider range of options. Here are 10 social commerce options explained.)

Social media and millennials:
They interact with brands across social media platforms.Social Media and Millenials

  • 62% of respondents like at least one brand on Facebook. The top 5 millennial brands on Facebook were Nike, Apple, Target, Starbucks and Forever 21.
  • 23% of respondents follow at least one brand on Twitter. The top 5 millennial brands on Twitter were Nike, ESPN, Starbucks, National Football League and National Hockey League.
  • 11% of respondents pin at least one brand on Pinterest
  • Actionable Social Media Marketing Tip: Be active on the social media platforms where your target audience spends their time. Observe what they do and interact with them on these platforms once you’ve determined what they want from you.  (Note:  Teen Vogue’s Seeing Social Survey found that the top networks for social media millennial shopping trends were Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest and Facebook.)

Social media and millennials:
How they behave on various platforms

As a marketer, look deeper at millennial activity to better tailor your content and interactions on social media networks to support lead generation and sales.

  • Millennials show brand support by liking, following and pinning it. Further, they’re generally willing to receive information from these brands and specify how they want it delivered.
  • Over half of millennials are in research mode when they seek brands on social media.
  • Millennials can be persuaded to act with an enticement such as coupons, discounts and exclusive offers.
  • Under 40% of millennial purchases are influenced by getting a recommendation to follow the brand on social media or an ad (regardless of platform). While seeing that a friend likes a brand on a social media platform has slightly more sway.

Millennial and Brand Association on SOcial Media - UMass 2014

  • Actionable Social Media Marketing Tip: Make your products stars on social media to provide options for buyers who are in research mode.

47% of respondents with Pinterest accounts purchased something online after pinning it, more than Facebook or Twitter. This purchase activity is consistent with other Pinterest research.

  • Actionable Social Media Marketing Tip: Don’t underestimate the power of Pinterest for supporting shopping!

No surprisemillennial purchase activity and social media focuses on purchases they control, namely clothes and beauty products.  Social_Commerce and Millennials BY Purchase Category via UMass Dartmouth-2014-1

  • Actionable Social Media Marketing Tip:  Monitor what your customers and competitors are doing on social media. Don’t get taken by surprise because you’re not doing your homework.

Social media and millennials:
How you can drive sales

Millenials, social media and social commerce by platform

Over two-thirds of millennials buy via multiple channels.


  • 77% of Facebook users purchase both online and in-stores.
  • 66% of Twitter users purchase both online and in-stores.
  • 63% of Pinterest users purchase both online and in-store
  • Actionable Social Media Marketing Tip: Provide opportunities to connect with your business via computer, smartphone and/or tablet. Since this target market uses multiple channels, they’re likely to check information on your products when they’re on the go, when they’re in your store (or your competitor’s), and/or when they’re at the office or home.

Less than 1 in 6 social media influenced millennials shop exclusively in stores. 

  • 12% of Facebook users purchase only in-stores.
  • 16% of Twitter users purchase only in-stores.
  • 13% for Pinterest users purchase only in-store.
  • Actionable Social Media Marketing Tip: Give prospects a reason to connect with your business online and offline so that you can track the full purchase cycle. Depending on your business, this can include an incentive on social media in terms of a coupon or a discount for registering for text messages.

Looking for more input on the millennial purchase process? Run an informal research gathering at your retail location with refreshments to discuss how they make purchase decisions. While not statistically valid, this type of group can give you insights into your audience.

Consistent with other research, Pinterest has the highest sales conversion rate. Why? The visual product presentation supports couch shopping and allows for easy purchase.Pinterest-Where Millennials BUy-UMass Dartmouth

  • Actionable Social Media Marketing Tip: Streamline the number of steps between your social media presentation and purchase. Otherwise, you’ll loose business.

It’s not only finding your product, brand and company information on social media, but also being able to purchase via a smartphone or tablet! Over one third of this demographic purchases over half of their products here.

Social Media-Millennials  Shop with mobile

  • Actionable Social Media Marketing Tip: Ensure prospects can go directly to your website from social media. Also, make sure your site renders well on smartphones and tablets.


Having grown up with computers and social media, millennials are comfortable using these platforms, especially Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to research and purchase products. If you target this market, social media and related content are a must in your marketing plans.

If you target millennials, how do you use social media and which platforms perform best for your market?

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen



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