In recent years, social media platforms have become popular resources for people to search and shop for products. According to a report conducted by audience research company GWI, this phenomenon has exploded in the post-pandemic landscape, with social platforms like TikTok and Instagram becoming top hunting grounds for people—especially members of the Z and Millennial generations—to find products and discover brands.

GWI’s flagship report, which highlights trends in the global media landscape, found that while Google still rules when it comes to search, the percentage of people who now discover brands via traditional search has dipped somewhat in the last five years, from 37 percent in 2018 to 31 percent in 2022.

Meanwhile, social media sites are quickly gaining steam for this purpose. According to the report, nearly two-thirds (61 percent) of people who use Instagram now also use that platform to find information about products. The same goes for 54 percent of Facebook users, 52 percent of TikTok users, 39 percent of Pinterest users, 39 percent of Twitter users, 33 percent of Reddit users and 25 percent of Snapchat users.

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Percentage of social media users who use those platforms to find information about products.

Overall, the number of people now searching for products on social media has risen 43 percent since 2015, according to the report. TikTok alone has seen a seven-percent increase in people using the short-form video platform to follow brand accounts since late 2020.

This phenomenon appears especially pronounced among younger consumers. The GWI report found that globally, Gen Zers now use Instagram almost as often as Google for the purpose of discovering brands. And among TikTok users, 46 percent of Gen Zers and Millennials polled admitted they make an impulse purchase online at least once every two to three weeks.

Social media continues to take up an increasing share of people’s daily time. Globally, Internet users spend nearly two-and-a-half hours a day on social media sites in 2022. Again, this growth is particularly apparent among younger generations, as Gen Zers spent an average of nearly three hours (two hours and 44 minutes) on social media per day last year. Interestingly, overall online time appears to have hit a ceiling around the world, with the global, average daily time users spent online dipping year-over-year to about six hours and 43 minutes in 2022, down from six hours and 56 minutes in 2021. For members of the Gen Z cohort, that number is even more pronounced, as average daily time among Gen Zers fell nine percent last year from the year prior.

Finally, the GWI report tackled the issue of second screening, or the practice of busying oneself with a second digital device while watching TV in the background. This phenomenon has climbed among all age groups in recent years, but members of the Z generation seem to be noted proponents of performing this double screening duty. More than two-thirds (69 percent) of Gen Z respondents said they chat or send messages to friends while watching TV. More than half (56 percent) said they scroll on social media while watching TV, 44 percent reported play games, 32 percent search for products and 32 percent check their emails or read the news.

GWI’s “Global Media Landscape” report was based on figures drawn from its internal annual research, which polled 900,000 Internet users aged 16-64 across 48 markets via an online questionnaire.