Earlier this semester I shared a post about my independent study and invited everyone to participate in a survey (thank you for participating!) that asked about the retail brands Instagram users follow (both the brands they have purchased from and those they have not). The results are in!
While I am writing a more comprehensive blog post that combines my research with interviews from marketers at companies like west elm and J. Crew, I wanted to share some interesting findings with you in the interim.
- Among Instagram users ages 18-33, 55% of us follow at least one brand.
- Of those that follow brands, 82% follow a brand that they haven’t made a purchase from.
- Does that mean that all followers are just lusting after designer clothes or their dream car? Nope. Of people who follow retail brands that they have made a purchase from, 40% followed the brand before they made their first purchase. Sometimes you like a brand and its products, but you’re not ready to make a purchase just yet. Or you haven’t come across the perfect thing to buy yet.
What does this mean? It means that people who follow brands tend to follow a mix of brands that they have made purchases from and haven’t. And just because they haven’t made a purchase, doesn’t mean that they never will. My research showed that this is especially true for people who follow beauty brands. Beauty brand followers had a greater likelihood of making a purchase from the brand when compared to followers of apparel, tech, or home décor companies.
According to Iconosquare, here’s the top beauty brands.
What characteristics indicate that individuals are more likely to make a purchase from a brand that they follow (but haven’t bought anything from yet)? If potential customers talk to their friends about the brand’s Instagram account or believe that the brand cares about its current customers, they exhibit greater purchase likelihood than others. Whether or not a brand’s Instagram account “inspires” you doesn’t play a statistically significant role in your decision to make a purchase. This doesn’t mean that anthropologie should stop posting whimsical photos. Rather it means that as much as we love aspirational Instagram posts, they’re not the deciding factor in determining if we spend money on a product (or at least we don’t admit it to ourselves).
In 2017, Facebook will earn a predicted 14% of its mobile advertising revenue from Instagram. They currently have over 200,000 brands advertising on Instagram. Results about purchase intent of followers can help marketers justify the ever competitive cost for a share of our screens as we scroll through Instagram. But to truly stand out in a crowded marketplace, brands will need to continue to differentiate themselves from one another and convince consumers that the time to buy is today, not tomorrow.