You should go read Mary Meeker’s 2018 Internet Trends report in its entirety if you work in technology or at a consumer brand.
Every year, my co-founders and I spend a few hours discussing new trends and gain invaluable insight from the annual report. We compare the report to previous years and discuss its implication on our business and our customers who happen to be consumer brands.
In this year’s report, the role of social media on E-commerce growth was a major theme. To help everyone save time and not have to read through 294 slides, here are the top 5 takeaways for consumer brands.
1) Social media continues to be a huge driver of online purchasing decisions.
With 55% of people buying products after social media discovery, the channel has been beyond proven out. Brands need to begin devoting more time and resources to their specific social media selling approach that represents them and their unique audience. Instead of just being one touchpoint of many, social media selling has quickly become one of the most important factors in a purchasing decision.
In Mary Meeker’s 2017 report, the growth of user-generated content was a big theme among brands because of its ability to help scale authentic content and drive greater engagement.
2) The increasingly crowded and competitive ad market has driven up costs
For E-commerce companies it’s becoming more expensive to drive clicks on social ads. Over the past few years, digital marketers have become more and more quantitative in their approach. Now, the most advanced E-commerce brands are becoming even more precise, creative, and outside-the-box with ad optimization. Many teams are constantly testing different types of photos, rich video content, user generated content, and offer types to see ROI.
To combat the rising digital ad costs, some brands are opening storefronts as a branding opportunity, or doubling down on experiences and community building.
3) Direct-to-consumer brands have become market leaders through social media and scaling word of mouth.
There are now an impressive 19 companies with $100M+ in annual revenue built on a direct-to-consumer model. These are the first companies of a new generation that started with online only sales and built huge communities of fans online.
While DTC brands have been a common theme in Mary Meeker’s previous reports, this year highlights the scale and the success that some of these companies have achieved. Social media doesn’t just work for E-commerce—it works at scale.
4) Video and rich media content provide unique ways for consumers to discover new products and engage with brand advocates.
Video content influences online purchases in both the US and China. The video market in the US is trending up as a unique way for consumers to discover and engage with products and other user’s experiences.
Social platforms like YouTube, with a community engagement angle, will increasingly see users who are brand affiliates produce more content for E-commerce brands as a full-time job to drive online sales.
Meeker spent a decent amount of time highlighting retail innovation in China, especially with regards to mobile video.
5) E-commerce sales and Mobile shopping app usage is starting to accelerate
E-commerce sales have continued to accelerate seeing a 16% year-on-year growth, while in-store retail has only seen a 3% year-on-year growth.
Mobile shopping app sessions grew 54% year-on-year which represented the fastest growing mobile app category ahead of music, entertainment, and utility.
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