Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Bridging the generational gap in social commerce

by Dafydd Woodward, Global Chief Operating Officer of The Goat Agency

For a number of years, there’s been a real “Gen Z” obsession within the marketing industry. 

The idea of this “unreachable”, digitally-native generation that has grown up with social media, but is also set to be the next big spending demographic, is extremely enticing. 

And yet, marketers should be mindful that they’re not forgetting equally important older generations. Millennials, Gen Z and Boomers tend to have more disposable income, are loyal to brands, and they’re also increasingly active on social media.

In 2024, social commerce is set to be the “big marketing topic”, and just like with TikTok, Instagram and influencer marketing, brands need to think carefully about how they approach it. It’s not just a one-size-fits-all; behaviours and attitudes towards social commerce are likely to be very different across generations. 

The categorisation conundrum 

Categorising consumers into groups such as Gen Z and Millennials has been ingrained into the advertising and marketing industry for a long time. And while it may seem over-simplistic, ultimately marketers do have to find some ways to tailor their messaging for maximum impact.

Diverse consumer groups exhibit varying online habits. Younger generations tend to favour quick, consumable content and spend extensive time online, while older age groups may engage less frequently, but with a higher level of involvement. Recognising these distinctions is crucial in social commerce, as different generations may prefer certain platforms and consume media in contrasting ways. 

Are older generations overlooked in social commerce strategies?

Brands often neglect older generations in social commerce, with conversations around the likes of TikTok Shop tending to focus on Gen Z. TikTok users are multi-generational though, and brands have a big opportunity to engage with consumers from across all age demographics across multiple commerce platforms. 

To do this, brands need to have a well thought out content strategy broken down by generational differences, then align with content creators that connect with their target demographics. This tailored approach is crucial, but at the same time, brands mustn’t forget their overarching messaging and should stay true to their brand’s “social personality”. 

The key is to define the core messaging first. It’s then possible to tailor different forms of this message based on how various audiences interact with the content. Whether the objective is to build awareness or drive sales, clarity in messaging should align with specific advertising goals. This strategic differentiation ensures that tailored messages for distinct audiences remain coherent and aligned with the overarching brand identity.

Applying this to social commerce

The integration of social commerce further emphasises the need for brands to consider generational nuances, from crafting the right content, to understanding consumer behaviours on the different platforms. Consider the customer journey just as much as you would in your wider social and ecommerce strategy. 

That means tailoring content format and length to suit different audiences, considering their consumption habits, both within and outside social platforms. It also means strategic placement of that content in context that fits the habits of older generations. 

When it comes to TikTok Shop, it’s worth noting that more and more Gen X are using TikTok. However, it’s possible that they may be more hesitant to use it. Driving awareness and consideration through top and middle funnel marketing strategies is key to help change perceptions. 

Driving conversions through social commerce

An accelerated pace introduces potential disruptions, creating a need for seamless and optimised experiences within apps and during transitions to external sites. Beyond content creation and attention-grabbing strategies, brands face a challenge in integrating the final stages of the purchase journey. 

From decision-making to delivery, the user interface, payment mechanisms and operational details, including elements like Apple or Google Pay all play a crucial role. The streamlining of these aspects matters, as even minor difficulties can deter potential customers from completing their purchase.

Creators are key for bridging the generational gap

The main way that brands can bridge the generational gap in social commerce is through creators. 

Let them be the conduit for your brand’s messaging. Influencer campaigns should be thought of as the first step to a social commerce strategy, driving awareness and engagement with your brand and products. 

They are also crucial to the middle of the funnel consideration phase, and this is particularly important for social commerce as they can provide reassurance for users that are hesitant to these features. Finally, they can drive the conversions, directing customers to your social commerce features. 

Don’t keep your social, influencer and social commerce strategies in silo; join them together in a combined force that will be relevant, easy and engaging to your target audience, no matter their age. 

Read more about how influencers can drive sales and conversions in the latest Goat Report, The Next Era of Influencer Marketing.