eCommerce: Social Commerce Trend

Social Commerce: More Than Half of U.S. Consumers Distrust Social Media Shopping

Consumers don't trust social commerce due to worries of being scammed. Despite this, the social commerce market is projected to exceed global revenues of US$6 trillion by 2030. Here is why.

February 21, 2024


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Social Commerce Doubts: Key Insights

  • Distrust Is More Common Than Not: Over half of U.S. consumers lack trust in products sold on social media, citing reasons such as illegitimate merchants and offers (63%), discomfort with sharing sensitive information (57%), and concerns about counterfeit or low-quality products (55%).

  • Social Media Fraud on the Rise: The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) validates these concerns, reporting US$2.7 billion lost to social media fraud since January 2021, along with an additional US$2 billion lost through websites or apps.

  • Global Potential of Social Commerce: Grand View Research forecasts global social commerce revenues to surpass US$6 trillion by 2030. But social commerce can only thrive with the technological integration of payment and security mechanisms.

Social commerce – or purchasing products on social media – is a growing global trend that has been embraced by some consumers and shunned by others. 

With last year's launch of TikTok Shop in the U.S., social commerce is becoming increasingly common in the West: A region where adoption tends to be lower, compared to other global regions. The launch of TikTok's new in-app shopping feature encounters various challenges, several of which are discussed in this analysis.

Most U.S. Consumers Are Worried About Fraud

A 2023 AiBUY survey revealed that over half of U.S. consumers (53%) do not trust products sold on social media platforms. This level of distrust is similar among Millennial and Gen Z users, at around 52%.

AiBuy also asked participants about the reasons for their distrust in purchasing products through social media, receiving multiple responses.

Problems With Purchasing Products via Social Media Platforms, According to U.S. Users

The majority, 63% to be exact, is worried about fake sellers and scams. Potential customers fear paying for items they won't get, or falling victim to other dishonest tactics.

Following this, 57% of participants indicated they are hesitant to share sensitive information on social media platforms, while 56% are worried about receiving counterfeit or low-quality products. This concern stems from the minimal regulation and easy access on social media, which can make it challenging to verify the authenticity and quality of products.

Additionally, 47% of respondents are deterred from making purchases via social commerce due to insufficient privacy and data security measures. Another 46% are discouraged by unclear return and refund policies.

On the lower end of concerns, 38% of consumers are dissatisfied with customer reviews and the lack of trustworthy ratings. Furthermore, 25% are reluctant to order homemade products that are not regulated.

Social Media Is the Leading Channel for Fraud in the U.S.

The prevalence of social media fraud proves that consumers are right to be concerned. Research by the FTC found that since the beginning of 2021, US$2.7 billion has been reported lost due to fraudulent practices on social media. This does not mean that social commerce is responsible for all of the lost funds. Social media scams can also include hacked accounts that ask for payments in the friends network and other scams.  

But what’s important to note is that the anonymity of social media and the added impossibility of regulating this vast space of internet interactions provides fertile ground for illegitimate practices, aimed at obtaining money from unsuspecting users.

Reported Fraud Losses in the U.S. by Contact Method, 2021-2023

This is further reinforced by the fact that the second most common channel through which U.S. consumers lost money is also online, namely websites and apps. A total of US$2 billion was reportedly lost to website or app scams.  

Online ads and pop-ups are less prevalent, however, with US$400 million reported lost to fraud. Keep in mind that the dark figure made up of unreported cases will be much higher than the FTC’s published figures, as many consumers avoid reporting scams, either because they do not expect tangible results from reporting the case, or for personal reasons such as shame at having been duped.

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Despite these apparent pitfalls of social commerce, the market is forecast to grow globally throughout the decade. Check out the data published by Grand View Research.

Social Commerce Could Reach US$6 Trillion in Global Revenue by 2030

Market research firm Grand View Research has released its forecast for global social commerce revenues through 2030. With an expected CAGR (2022-2030) of 31%, this could result in an astounding US$6.2 trillion in revenue by 2030. 

Social Commerce Revenue Worldwide, from 2022 to 2030

While it is important to remember that forecasts are not definitive and thus should always be taken with a grain of salt, the assumptions behind these figures are reasonable: As social media and digital payments become more intertwined, as security around authorization methods increases, and as brands find ways to adapt their offerings and product marketing to Western tastes, it is not impossible that social commerce will gain significant traction by 2027.

Buying items through social media is easy and can be fun when coupled with consumer preferences and personal interests, so this segment of eCommerce may become more commonplace and natural to users over time.

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Social Commerce Doubts: Closing Thoughts

TikTok Shop's Western rollout faces hurdles as more than half of U.S. consumers distrust social commerce due to fears of fraud and privacy breaches, a concern underscored by the FTC's findings on the prevalence of social media fraud. While it is possible that the predictions have been thoroughly overstated, it is also likely that social commerce will become more commonplace in the West, as the market adapts to regional consumer tastes and offers more elaborate transaction security.

Sources: AiBUYChainstoreageForbesFTCMcKinseyTime