What you need to know

As consumers continue to shop more online, the importance and role of social media and product reviews continue to increase. Social media can impact consumers at each step along the path to purchase; the increasing adoption of social commerce only furthers this. Product reviews provide consumers with the guidance and confidence they need to make their purchase decision, which is becoming even more important as in-store shopping remains limited. Moving forward, brands and retailers will look to improve their use of both social platforms and product reviews to help improve the overall online shopping process.

Key issues covered in this Report

  • The impact of COVID-19 on the role of social media and product reviews market

  • The increase in value-focused shopping due to the recession

  • How consumers are utilizing social media on their path to purchase

  • How brands and retailers can best obtain and utilize product reviews


This Report analyzes consumer usage of and attitudes toward social media and product reviews while shopping online. For the purposes of this Report, Mintel has used the following definitions:

Social media platforms included in this report are YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and TikTok.

Social commerce – also referred to as shoppable posts, refers to brands and retailers selling products and services directly through social media platforms, giving consumers the ability to purchase without having to leave a platform.

Product Reviews – ratings and customer feedback shared on online resources such as brand/retailer websites or social platforms, third party review sites or social channels.

COVID-19: market context

The first COVID-19 case was confirmed in the US in January 2020. On March 11, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global health pandemic, and on March 13, President Trump declared a national emergency in the US. 

Across the US, state-level stay-at-home orders rolled out throughout the months of March and April, remaining in place through May, and in some cases June. During this time, referred to as lockdown, non-essential businesses and school districts across the nation closed or shifted to remote operations. Social media networks saw increased usage during lockdown, as consumers stayed at home and events and other forms of entertainment were limited.

During re-emergence, all 50 states have relaxed stay-at-home orders and allowed businesses to operate with varying levels of social distancing measures in place. The continued spread of COVID-19 infections has driven some states to slow down or reverse course on reopening plans. During this time, social commerce offerings across platforms are increasing; brands and retailers continue to leverage social channels to engage with consumers and extend their ecommerce offerings to create a more seamless shopping experience.

Mintel anticipates the US will remain in a state of flux through 2021, until a vaccine is more widely available.

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