Gen Zers lead the way in Singapore’s online shopping space

Logos of online social media and social networking sites displayed on a smartphone screen on August 01, 2023 in Bath, England.

Matt Cardy | Getty Images News | Getty Images

SINGAPORE — As more businesses turn to social media to sell their merchandise, online shoppers in Singapore are exploring new buying experiences — and Gen Zers are leading the way.

According to a 2023 report by Meta and Bain & Company on Southeast Asia’s digital consumer landscape, 72% of Gen Zers in Singapore prefer to shop online.

Gen Zers, typically born between 1997 and 2012, are leading other generations in discovering, evaluating and buying online, with 45% doing so via social media, the report showed.

Many social media sites have introduced e-commerce features on their platforms, providing an alternative to popular online shopping sites like Lazada and Shopee. For example, users can purchase directly from TikTok shop or Facebook Marketplace without navigating outside of the application.

Shopping on social media contributes to the social commerce industry, which is poised to grow substantially in Singapore over the next five years and estimated to reach $6.99 billion by 2028, according to a report last year published on Research and Markets.

Social media appeal

Gen Zers prefer to shop on TikTok and Instagram instead of Facebook, which is more popular with older generations, a 2023 survey by British analytics firm YouGov showed.

In Southeast Asia, more than 15 million businesses use TikTok to promote their work to an audience of 325 million monthly users, the content platform said in a release.

Videos that use entertainment and informational value to drive online purchases, also known as “shoppertainment,” have created a market on the platform worth $500 billion today, according to a 2022 report by TikTok.

Such a strategy enables businesses to attract buyers by creating fun, credible and inspiring content which meet customers’ emotional needs, TikTok said.

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The emotional engagement of “shoppertainment” appeals to Gen Zers as they would rather buy from content creators who provide a dimension of authenticity to the product, said Lawrence Loh, professor of strategy and policy at the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Business School.

“Compared to other generations, they prefer to get real about what they buy,” he said.

Creators promoting products can also appeal to Gen Zers’ preference for credibility by using livestreaming functions on social media platforms.

Unlike the static shopping experience of e-commerce websites such as Lazada or China’s Taobao, TikTok’s livestreamers chat to their audience for three or four hours at a time, said Tracy Loh, senior lecturer of communication management at Singapore Management University (SMU).

It’s like getting a recommendation from a friend, she said, helping the buyer gain more user trust than a brand would. “You want somebody whose trust factor is high, especially when it comes to more personal or intimate products, such as cosmetics…

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