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A Global Snapshot: Ecommerce Trends Around the World

Whenever I share the stat that more than 70% of Instagram users are outside the U.S., people seem to be surprised. But unlike Facebook and Twitter, participation on the visual-centric platform isn’t contingent on knowing a specific language. Instagram’s focus is on connecting people via images. Many of the user-to-user interactions on the platform consist of emojis or a simple @ mention to a friend, directing them to a particular photo.

This all got me thinking on a broader level. For marketers in the U.S., it’s easy to take on a U.S.-centric view when thinking about consumer habits. But as visual commerce becomes less about language and more about images, the chances are much greater of sparking interest from international consumers.

To make these cross-continental connections, it’s important for marketers to understand how consumers in different markets compare in terms of digital habits, social media usage and ecommerce adoption. So, I compiled a host of data from nine different countries to gain a better understanding. Here are some highlights.

Argentina: Social on Mobile is Ubiquitous


Argentina has the highest mobile phone social network penetration in Latin America, according to eMarketer. Some 92.7% of mobile phone internet users check their social feeds on their devices.

They’re also spending a lot of time doing it. Social media users in Argentina are the most active around the globe. These consumers spend an average of 4.3 hours per day on social networks, well above the global average of 2.4 hours, according to Q4 data from GlobalWebIndex.

Mobile commerce is making waves in the country, too. Over a 30-day period, some 17% of the country’s population used a mobile phone to make a purchase.

Pro Tip

Some 9% of Argentina’s population has an Instagram account. To that end, making it easier for consumers to purchase the products they find on this mobile-first platform is key. Like2Buy from Curalate makes this possible by providing brands with a way to drive users from Instagram to product pages quickly.

Brazil: Fashion and Accessories Drive Ecommerce

Brazil has the most mature ecommerce market in all of Latin America and ranks No. 10 for online retail sales worldwide. According to eMarketer, in 2015, $18.8B dollars will be spent in retail ecommerce in Brazil. A breakdown of transactions shows that the bulk of sales will likely go toward fashion. In the first half of 2014, 18% of ecommerce sales in Brazil were from fashion and accessories purchases, according to a study from e-bit.

Much of the research for these purchases is likely being done on mobile devices. In the first quarter of 2015, pageviews on mobile phones increased 109% over the previous year, per StatCounter.

Pro Tip

Be mindful of the online experience. Image analytics can enable ecommerce teams to understand which products are generating the most revenue as well as which product photos drive conversions. One way to boost engagement on your site, for instance, is to complement your stock photos with those shared by fans.

Sigma Beauty, a cosmetics brand with an international customer base, saw the impact of this firsthand. Since incorporating the Curalate Fanreel solution onto their product detail pages, Sigma has delivered nearly a 4x lift in time-on-site.

Germany: Avid Online Buyers, Lukewarm Social Media Users

German consumers are the second most active ecommerce users in the world, coming in only behind the U.K. Some 63% of the German population reported to GlobalWebIndex that they bought something online via PC over a 30-day period in Q4 2014. One out of five made a purchase via mobile phone.

Marketers should keep in mind, however, that the country’s social media users aren’t very avid when compared to their global counterparts. Their time spent on social networks (2.1 hours per day) falls below the global average of 2.4 hours. When optimizing for German buyers, your site comes first. Ensure it’s both desktop and mobile ready.

Nigeria: Thriving Despite Infrastructure Challenges

More than 75% of pageviews in Nigeria come from mobile devices, according to StatCounter. However, as only 7% of the population actively accesses a social account on mobile, social channels probably aren’t the best way to connect with these consumers.

Despite the lack of a viable post service in Nigeria, Mashable reported in 2014 that ecommerce is proliferating in the capital city of Lagos. Some retailers are even finding ways to offer same-day delivery. There’s opportunity right now for companies to connect with consumers in this bourgeoning market.

South Korea: Mobile-Friendly Market Presents Opportunity


Online browsing is effortless in South Korea. The country has the fastest internet and mobile connection speeds around the globe, by far. At 18.2 Mbps on mobile, it puts marketers in a great position to use images and video to connect with these consumers.

What’s even more notable, though, is that shoppers in South Korea are the likeliest around the globe to make purchases via mobile phones. Some 37% of the country’s population did so over a 30-day period in Q4 2014, per GlobalWebIndex.

Singapore: Super Social Consumers Abound

Data pulled by We Are Social shows that social media penetration in Singapore is among the highest in the world. 66% of its population has an active account on Facebook, the top social network in the country.

Moreover, some 59% of the population uses mobile to access their accounts, giving marketers an enormous opportunity to connect with these consumers on mobile-first social platforms.

Pro Tip

Consumers are increasingly likely to purchase, or seek additional information about, the products they find on social. While Facebook is the most popular platform in Singapore, Instagram’s focus on products and images makes it especially important for marketers. As of Q4 2014, 14% of the population was active on Instagram, according to the GlobalWebIndex.

As mentioned previously, a tool such as Like2Buy can turn social curiosity into an opportunity to drive visual commerce. Many of the brands we work with, in fact, are seeing significant results. For example, over a 90-day period, Moorea Seal’s Instagram feed became its third highest revenue driver from a referral source.

Spain: Social Content Influences Purchases


Half of Spain’s social network users report that content on social media has significant or great influence over their purchase decisions, according to an IAB Spain study.

Social media apps are used by 35% of the country’s population, according to figures pulled by We Are Social, and mobile purchases were made by 17% of Spanish consumers over a 30-day period.

Pro Tip

Understanding the types of images that drive action is crucial, especially in a market where social media content affects purchase decisions. For example, do images of accessories work better than top-down outfit photos? Do consumers prefer to see user-generated content over branded images? Regularly conducting analyses like these will help brands deliver the most relevant, actionable content to their fans.

U.K.: “Click and Collect” Continues to Make Waves


Shoppers in the U.K. are the likeliest of all to make online purchases, with 64% of the population reporting to GlobalWebIndex that they bought something online via PC over a 30-day period.

The significant figure can likely be attributed to the prevalence of click and collect (ordering a product online and then picking it up at a physical location). Some 73% of online shoppers reported in a 2015 IMRG study that they’ve used click-and-collect services.

They’re spending a notable amount of money per online purchase, too. A 2015 RetailMeNot study conducted by the Centre for Retail Research found that each person in the U.K. is expected to make 21.2 online purchases this year, and the average shopper will spend $89.76 (£57.41) per purchase.

U.S.: Specific Retailers See Bulk of Ecommerce Revenue

Marketers who are not properly tuned into social in the U.S. are missing out on significant revenue. A Deloitte study found that consumers who use social media to help make purchase decisions are not only likelier to convert faster, but they are 4x likelier than non-users to spend more on purchases. With consumers producing more content about products and services than the brands themselves, it’s imperative that marketers find effective ways to manage these conversations.

More than half—56%—of U.S. consumers made an online purchase via PC over a 30-day period, while 18% bought via mobile phone, according to the GlobalWebIndex.

Where are they buying? It appears that the bulk of retail ecommerce sales are going to specific brands. An eMarketer report notes that apparel-specific retailers tend to have a higher percentage of revenue coming from ecommerce than discounters or department stores.

Different Solutions for Different Markets

Though consumers in different markets have varying habits and experiences, one thing is clear: eCommerce is increasingly becoming the way of the world. What does this mean from a marketing standpoint? As digital communication becomes more about images and less about language, brands need to be innovative about how to drive commerce from all this creative regardless of a customer’s location.

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The Author

Stephanie Wharton

Stephanie Wharton, Content Strategist

Stephanie is a Content Strategist at Curalate. She enjoys analyzing data and writing about consumer trends.


2 responses to “How to Identify and Retain Loyal Instagram Fans”

  1. Amber Mulle says:

    Great post, Stephanie!

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