Idaho, Iowa, Des Moines
June 24, 2022

How The Impact of Social Media on Customer Purchase Decisions Affects Millennials

These days, you can’t go on social media and not see ads. The media and purchases have always gone hand in hand. But with the algorithms changing all the time, people are being targeted for the types of products or services they’d want to buy on social media.

Millennials’ buying behavior demonstrates the latest trend in online shopping. Although Facebook has targeted ads, Instagram is where the real targeting happens. Millennials aren’t the only ones who fall for these ads, but they are more likely to purchase.

The impact of social media on customer purchase decisions is huge. Millennials happen to be the main target demographic. They’re on social media more than other generations and are no stranger to impulse buying. 

What I’m concerned about is how the targeted social media ads and impulse buying on Instagram or Facebook affect the mental health of millennials. It can cause anxiety or shopping addiction. We’re already on our phones all the time, but now we have the entire world of e-commerce at our fingertips.

media and purchases

Social Media Shopping Trends

Millennials often fall prey to social media ads, and for good reason. Social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram target this age group in particular. They’re more likely to impulse-buy. Millennials are also heavily influenced by what they see on social media.

The impact of social media on customer purchase decisions is huge. In 2020, Instagram saw a daily influence on purchasing behavior at 72%. That’s in comparison to older generations, who had a daily influence to purchase on Instagram at 41%. 

This shows that millennials’ buying behavior from social media, and particularly Instagram, is very different from older generations. Millennials spend money on things they want, not just things they need. They’re young and impressionable, which means that targeted ads often work on them.

In 2020 we were all stuck in our houses spending a good amount of time on our phones. But I’m going to bet that percentage of daily influence on purchasing behavior statistics that I cited before has increased. That’s because capitalism has created a situation the puts millennials’ buying behavior in the spotlight and then society blames millennials for being “irresponsible” for spending money on afd. Just like social media, making purchases on Instagram from your phone is pretty damn addicting.

It’s common to see an ad, make a purchase, and then begin seeing ads for similar products or companies. A 30-year-old female might find herself scrolling past ads for makeup, skin care products, clothing, etc. She makes a purpose, the algorithm does its thing, and the next time she shows up on Instagram she’s got a slew of ads targeting the kind of products and services she bought.

Social Media and Purchases

With the trend between the media and purchases rising, social commerce has become incredibly popular. It’s also done great things for small and medium-sized businesses. 59% of people who buy from social media ads are more likely to support small businesses. As we’ve already established, a good chunk of that 59% is millennials. 

That makes sense, though, because millennials are on social media, in general, more than older generations. I’m going to bet that millennials are the target audience for most social commerce ads. Which is smart. Millennials’ buying behavior is different from other generations’ buying behavior. 

Older generations are used to going to retail stores to shop. Maybe they’ve switched over to online shopping, but there’s a good chance they’re not buying a lot of stuff off of Instagram. They might not even have Instagram.

Social media shows us what we want to see. Do you have curly hair but can’t find the right product? Bam! You somehow just got targeted for three different hair care products for curly hair. Are you having trouble with your skin? Well, look at that – you’re now seeing ads for makeup and skincare products.

The other thing that happens is that millennials tell their friends where they got their stuff. Someone gets a compliment on a dress, and that person just has to say that they got it from Instagram. And somehow, magically, the person who gave the compliment sees that same ad and clicks “buy.”

the impact of social media on customer purchase decisions

How Millennials’ Buying Behavior Affects Their Mental Health

It’s not good for anyone to be on their phones for hours every day. Our society is getting used to having computers that can search for anything literally at our fingertips. You carry around a phone all day in your pocket or your purse. You pull it out to check on social media. What are your friends doing? What are people posting today? 

And, inevitably, what stuff can you buy today? I’m not saying you shouldn’t shop online. But online shopping is different than Instagram shopping. When you’re shopping online, you browse and scroll. When you shop on Instagram you respond to the first, second, maybe even third ad you see by buying whatever it is they’re pushing on you.

While I’m not saying that shopping is bad, I’m also not saying that social media shopping is bad either. But I’m worried about the millennials who are falling prey to an algorithm that’s against them. I don’t want to see them broke and even more addicted to their phones, particularly to Instagram.

The effect that social media shopping can have on millennials’ mental health is, frankly, appalling. Social media in general allows people to play the comparison game in a way that never existed before. Everything has to be more, more, more. You need to like these posts. Comment on these. Get x amount of followers. Make your reels and TikTok videos.

I get it, social media is where it’s at for millennials. But just because the rest of the world is doing it, doesn’t mean you have to. Social media has turned into a popularity contest. Social commerce is capitalizing on that, expecting users to scroll long and hard enough that they’ll buy more stuff.

To my dear millennials – you aren’t missing out on anything if you don’t go on Instagram today. And if you do, you don’t have to like, comment on, and buy everything you see. Don’t let yourself run on a hamster wheel that lands you in debt or feeling bad about yourself. 

Therapy Can Help You If You’re Struggling With Social Media and Purchases

Finding yourself scrolling and buying? Feeling anxious and overwhelmed at the thought of all the purchases you made from Instagram? Consider therapy – I can help you work through your challenges and come up with goal-setting strategies to help you find ways to manage your Instagram shopping habits.
During our work together, you’ll learn how to set realistic goals and see them through. We’ll come up with coping skills to deal with impulse buying and help you step confidently into the world knowing what you’re dealing with and how you can manage it.I’m ready if you are. Reach out today to schedule a complimentary consultation.

Meet the author

Danielle Wayne

Danielle is an anxiety therapist. She specializes in helping busy millennials dial down their anxiety and ADHD, so they can perform at their best. Danielle has been featured on Apartment Therapy, SparkPeople, Lifewire, and Now Art World. When Danielle isn't helping her clients, she's playing video games or spending time with her partner and step children.

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