Instagram Shopping and motives of this digital artefact
My digital artefact is the digital document covering my research and findings about shopping habits of the Young via Instagram. The research is developed from the concern on how young people, including me use social media for which purposes besides extending network ties and collecting/ sharing information. As my academic researches, the role of social media in selling strategy is more and more important. And in some parts of it, common social networking sites have become the fruitful platform for selling and buying purposes of specific advertised products. Typically, Instagram Shopping is defined as a set of essential features that help people to conduct the purchasing by viewing photos and videos posted by shops via the app. Taking use of the large audiences in Instagram and the facilitation of the app with great pictures and videos, the chance of products/ services being introduced to more people is enhanced.
I generates this research because I want to investigate the process and behaviors of people, especially the young toward the potential of spending money in this social media platform. And, thus I could seek for basic understanding on online selling for starting up my small business in the future. This is the opening part of my series in researching possible channels of selling in online environment. That would be helpful for me in knowing about the market, defining the best suitable means to sell products, and affirming the suited channel for my selling project. More than that, according to my observation, social media is the flourish land for very small retailers to sell their products to mass population. Addressing demands of the young, I decided to investigate Instagram Shopping with the consideration on it as the potential channel for raising up sales volume. I thought my findings would be an useful source of information for reference purpose on the common trend of shopping by the young and also constructive for small retailers whose demands are to expand their selling channels.
I decided I will develop this project by two main stages – (1) desk-based research with the collection of related information via academic and popular sources; and (2) experiential intepretation by personal experience, interview and survey with friends about preference and motives of why people select Instagram for buying products. The reasons of selecting the young as the main object in researching was from two points – (a) the young is more familiar with Instagram and (b) my intention of retailing would aim to serve young segments.
In order to understand behaviors toward Instagram shopping …
… there are three steps of investigation to be involved. Firstly, I have made practical observations on shops and products being sold via Instagram Shopping by using the app. Secondly, I summarized my personal experience in using Instagram Shopping into a list of headings showing specific behavioral habits. Thirdly, I conducted short conversations with friends about the topic. Outcomes of three steps were accumulated and analyzed to provide the answer for the topic: whether Instagram shopping is prefered by the young and if yes, how are their preference?
Starting from the point that the use of social media networking sites for making friends, collecting information, sharing ideas, connecting with others, and so on is becoming more and more popular around the world. Social networking sites do not simply a mean for those purposes, but expanding functional benefits of uses from their very beginning of appearance, Facebook or Instagram are steadily used for other purposes of attracting strangers into one concern – for example, a product or a service via digital artefacts of pictures, videos, captions, and more. I, myself, when starting first days in Australia, had found certain difficulties of physical shopping due to hundreds of constraints, for instance language ability, not knowing ways, unfamilarity with new living style, etc. Therefore, the choice of online shopping for various items conquered me by its convenience. Till now, that habit is still remained although I am already getting well on the new life and corners of the city.
Plenty of physical stores and brands joining the online space with Instagram shops
The first step that I made was to observe Instagram shop with the simple search on Google ‘Instagram shopping Australia’. Despite being presented in Australia with the simple function of product tags for e-commerce in 2016, Instagram is upgrading and now, since June 2020, it allows influencers and businesses to sell through the app. Regardless of its new presence, number of retailers joining the Instagram world with sell function is increasingly day by day as the potential of over 9 million active users on the monthly basis. Following the trend during last few months, along with the external situation of COVID-19 in Australia, majority of discussions have the common argument on the growing of online shopping. This is not only the trend in Australia but all around the world. It means any one coming to Australia (new customers) would be familiar with online shopping or shopping via social networking sites. Let’s check some Instagram accounts for clarifying the trend of joining Instagram space of brands. Champion has total 1,311 posts with 67.7K followers. Oxford Shop – an iconic and timeless Australian fashion label has total 3,278 posts with 22.9K followers. Miniso Australia – a new name in Instagram Shop page has 151 posts with 29.7K followers.
Reasons and motives of Instagram Shopping
The second step that I conducted, once being affirmed that Instagram Shops are increasing in terms of numbers and quality in Australia, was related to the personal reflection of my own experience in searching, verifying and buying via Instagram Shops. Besides the reason of an international student coming to Australia without familiarity with location and related features of a normal living, the biggest motive for shopping via Instagram is due to its convenience in (1) asking for further explanations on products; (2) visual images of products; (3) ease in uses as the popularity of Instagram among the youth; and (4) ease in ordering. How about the comparison with other sites for example Facebook or using e-commerce platforms such as Amazon? The oustanding point is toward the visual images of Instagram being displayed with connected grid layout which is eye-catching. While comparing to e-commerce platforms, it would take some times to log in and search for suitable products and shops among thousand options. This would limit the high convenience degree if I had already decided which products and which shops were wanted to buy from. Basically, to me, there would be no big differences between social networking sites, e.g. Facebook or Instagram for the shopping purpose. Since it is the connection between sites and even where you are, you could receive the similar information and serving styles from shop owners. It would be the layout and presence of Instagram with multiple pictures which are very appealing that attracts me and persuades me for the purchases. Actually, there are slight differences between which channels to buy wtih different products. I have never bought or sought for information about electronic items or products with high values (e.g. > US$ 50-100) via Instagram Shops. Most of products being shopped via Instagram are mainly essential items or FMCG or cosmetic ones.
The third step in the second stage of my research is the survey and discussions with my friends about their thoughts about Instagram shopping. Two key questions which I used to ask them were – (1) Do you prefer to use Instagram shopping?; and (2) What is the most influential motive for your shopping in Instagram? The selection of participants directs to my friend group who are the young and approachable (that are not violate requirements of social distances as the ethical regulation). 20 friends of mine including both Vietnamese and Australian and some of other nationalities joined the session.
‘Do you prefer to use Instagram shopping?’
There was about 35% confirming the preference to Instragram shopping. Meanwhile, up to 80% showing that they prefered to shop online even via social networking sites in general. It could be explained as the ‘new appearance’ of Instagram Shop that consumption behavior had not yet been familiar with. I also found that there were no differences between nationalities in the choice, except the case of Vietnamese people as they were the highest group of preferring Instagram shopping. Further investigating, they reported the habits of using Facebook to order products. And this was claimed as the main reason leading to their preferences of Instagram. Interestingly, I did realize the common sense between students – the young in using Instagram shopping in particular and online shopping in general: it was the mean to overcome constraints of locations, knowledge about the new location and language barriers. They assumed this method would help them to easily conduct the orders without spending time or being confused when physical shopping. The concern is that when they know more about the new places, whether they still use shopping via social networking sites? Although the clear response could not be found from the conversional sharing in the discussion, the implication is rather positive if convenience is highlighted and busier life forges them to choose a more economical and time-saving shopping mode.
‘What is the most influential motive for your shopping in Instagram?’
Time-saving, convenience, ease in shopping with sincere consults, wide options for selection, shopping without concerns of time, and so on are among common motives for the young to shop via Instagram. Interesting finding about the motive that distinguishes Instagram and Facebook Shops is toward the picture/ video layout. The most critical motive for the young in choosing shopping via Instagram rather than other platforms is the visual appearance of products, i.e. the grid layout of the app allowing the presence multiple pictures at the same time. It creates the convergent or integrated effects on viewers’ mind and push them to achieve the possession. The discipline of views, impressions and reaches of Instagram is quite similar as Facebook is applied. It means there would not be ‘a strange feeling’ in being approached by shops or approaching product categories of any Instagram shops from the viewpoint of the young who are rather familiar wtih the use of Instagram. Once again, there is no difference between nationalities in this point; yet, the clear reflection is shown on how each nationality highlights which motive. For example, when Vietnamese students love shops with great pictures being shot carefully by layers of decorations, lighting, filter, etc., Australian friends love real pictures being taken by the nature mode rather than ‘a photo-shooting studio style’. To direct the right understanding on discussions in my research, I shall put a note in this point as the number of people confirming the preference to Instagram Shopping was not high (compared and among 20 responses), the reflection on this question would be claimed for the entire online shopping of them rather than the one specifying for Instagram shopping.
Considering which items bought via Instagram shopping, audience responses highlighted essential items which low engagement of searching, considering and making decisions. This point is consensus among people without differences by nationalities. Basically, my discussion was taken with my friends who were students, i.e. living demands were not diverse and budget for spending was also tight. Thus, the choice of Instagram shopping would be caused from the saving lifestyle.
Still wide space for investigating …
Shopping behaviors are complicated and the appearance of Instagram Shops in Australia has been rather new. People would need more time to make the comparison and define which channels of shopping best serve for their demands. Acknowledging that the cost of having an Instagram shop is almost nothing, and that this is the powerful motivator for brands in diversifying their selling channels. Yet, toward very small retailers, this is the huge opportunity to reach potential customers. There are more things and observations being required in order to confirm the attractiveness of Instagram Shopping in Australia. Thus, my research has the strong potential of development. As my introduction, this is the starting part of my series in investigating shopping behaviors of the young in Australia.
Gillezeau, N. (2020). Instagram lets influencers and businesses sell through their pages.Australia Financial Review, Jun 25, 2020. Retrieved Nov 12, 2020, https://www.afr.com/technology/instagram-lets-influencers-and-businesses-sell-through-their-pages-20200624-p555l6
Instagram for Business. https://business.instagram.com/1319742961447503/videos/307770863773497/
Miniso Australia. https://www.instagram.com/minisoaustralia/?hl=en
Oxford Shop. https://www.instagram.com/oxfordshop/?hl=en
Shop for Shops in Australia. https://www.instagram.com/shopforshopsaus/?hl=en
Social Tap. (2020). Instagram shopping in Australia? Yes, please! 23 Mar 2020. Available at https://www.socialtap.com.au/instagram-shopping-in-australia/
What is Instagram Shopping? https://business.instagram.com/shopping