Holiday Guide Part 5: The Path to Brand Discovery

Lola Behrens, Content Marketing Manager
Anna Otieno, Head of Research, Strategy, & Insights

October 9th, 2023

Social Media is an Engine for Brand Discovery

When planning for the 2023 holiday season, marketers should consider current trends in brand discovery. In today’s digital landscape, consumers are discovering brands and products through more channels than ever before - and businesses are struggling to stand out.

Emerging digital channels have changed the way that consumers find and interact with brands, and businesses need to be tactical in their approach to meeting customers where they are. This means understanding the role that different channels play in the user journey, and how these behaviors vary across consumer groups.

The tl;dr? Social media is an engine for brand discovery. It represents an ever-growing opportunity for businesses to reach and engage with their target audience, especially on platforms where they’re already spending a significant amount of time. Social platforms continue to rank ahead of other channels, including traditional search, broadcast TV, and out-of-home (OOH) advertising.

There’s a Generational Divide When it Comes to Product Search Habits

It should come as no surprise that different age groups are preferential to different methods of searching for new brands or products. According to a survey conducted by Jungle Scout, a majority of American consumers begin their search journey on Amazon. In fact, all demographic groups chose Amazon as their first search destination except for Gen X, who instead primarily use traditional search engines.

Other notable trends show how Gen Z and Millennials are more inclined to use social media as an aid to brand discovery. Gen Z relies heavily on TikTok (43% open the app first when searching for a product), while Millennials use a mix of traditional search and social media. Finally, Boomers are the most likely of any demographic group to begin their search on Amazon (63% of respondents named Amazon as their starting place).

Ultimately, there are important distinctions in how different consumers discover new products, and effective marketing strategies will have accounted for these nuances.

Millennials Are Using a Growing List of Search Methods

Pinterest is hugely popular among Millennials and has emerged as a key player in their social search habits. The platform is leaning into its strengths by releasing solutions like Premier Spotlight, a high-impact video placement on SERP ads.

YouTube Shorts is another robust discovery tool, with most views starting from a homepage and navigating to long-form content recommendations. The app’s reach can’t be overstated - in July 2023, YouTube Shorts recorded 2 billion monthly active users (up from 1.5 billion in June 2022).

TikTok is Disrupting Traditional Search

TikTok is beating out Reels and YouTube Shorts when it comes to Engagement, Content Volume, and Comments. Reels does have the upper hand in one area: Watch Rate.

It’s no secret that TikTok is disrupting the traditional search market, and generative AI stands to further elevate the platform as a first search destination for users. In May, TikTok began testing a new in-app chatbot, Tako, in select markets. If (and when) Tako is launched in the U.S., TikTok could infuse the technology into the search box and supercharge both search and commerce on the platform.

Check out more Holiday 2023 resources below, and stay informed on all things digital marketing by subscribing to our newsletter and following us on LinkedIn.

Subscribe to
New Engen Insights