Instagram Is Bringing Creators Closer to the Purchase Process

Instagram has been working on several initiatives to enable commerce directly within the app. Last year, it made big moves that bring creators closer to that process.

Starting in May 2019, Instagram began allowing certain creators to tag products that appear in their posts and then link to purchase opportunities. This feature was originally aimed at brands and retailers, but the expanded test also brought in a small set of celebrity and macro creators who work primarily in beauty and fashion.

When these creators tag products in their posts, the links go to Instagram Checkout, a secure way to complete purchases that Instagram started to test last March. Only those brands and retailers participating in Checkout can use the shoppable posts feature with creators.

The creators we spoke with for our latest report, “Influencer Marketing and the Path to Purchase,” are intrigued by the possibilities of native commerce features within the app.

“A lot of people don't like to jump from app to app; it's time-consuming, it feels weird or they just forget to make the purchase,” said Maddie Potter Duff, an Instagram creator focusing on fashion. “I think simplifying that process and keeping it all in one spot can be really nice and convenient.”

And in some cases, Instagram creators who have their own brands are also using Checkout. Tina Craig launched U Beauty after building a large following for her posts related to luxury handbags and beauty.

“Checkout allows us to grow U Beauty with accurate consumer buying behavior based on content,” she said. “This enables me to adjust content accordingly with an immediacy not offered by retailers. Plus, there’s the ease of purchase without leaving Instagram.”

Involving creators in its social commerce plans makes sense on Instagram, since many users follow creators there.

According to GlobalWebIndex’s 2019 "Influencer Marketing" report, 41% of US and UK internet users ages 16 to 64 used Instagram to engage with influencers, and 39% did so on Facebook. Snapchat ranked fifth, following the top four by significant margins.

Instagram’s users are willing targets for creator-driven commerce. Because they are young—60.8% of US users were younger than 35 last year, we forecast—they are highly receptive to pitches from the influencers they follow. GlobalWebIndex also found in its August 2019 study that roughly one in five of Gen Z and millennial respondents had made a purchase inspired by an influencer or celebrity post on social media in the past month. GlobalWebIndex defined Gen Zers as those ages 16 to 22 and millennials as those 23 to 36.

By comparison, 16% of Gen X (ages 37 to 55) and 6% of baby boomer (ages 56 to 64) respondents had been similarly inspired.

Research by Tinuiti also shows the relatively greater impact of influencers on younger people. Its May 2019 study found that social influencers affected the purchase decisions of 44.8% of US digital beauty buyers ages 18 to 24, compared with 25.9% of 25- to 34-year-olds and 18.8% of respondents 35 to 65.

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