72% of millennials say social media impacts their buying choices

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Social media has become an integral part of our lives, especially when it comes to younger generations. Its impact is far-reaching, influencing us in countless ways, from our body image to our political views to buying decisions.

Speaking of the latter, millennials seem to be especially prone to allowing social media content to guide their spending.

While social media feeds can be a good resource to discover all types of new products, it’s important to exercise caution and not let impulse buying creep up on you.

Here’s what to consider before hitting “add to cart” because a social media post told you so.

Millennials are most likely to feel the impact of social media on their buying choices

According to a survey from CreditCards.com from last week, 72 percent of millennials say social media impacts their buying decisions. This is the most likely age group to be influenced by social media in their spending, followed by 66 percent of Gen-Z, 49 percent of Gen X and 45 percent of baby boomers.

Millennials tend to trust posts from their friends and family, with this type of content influencing 38 percent of millennials when it comes to shopping. Only 20 percent of millennials report making purchases inspired by posts from celebrities or influencers.

At the same time, this doesn’t mean millennials ignore ads. In fact, advertisements are the second most influential type of social media content, impacting buying decisions of 31 percent of millennials.

Whatever type of content compels you to spend your hard-earned money, it’s always wise to pause and make sure it is indeed a good idea.

How to handle impulse buying in the age of social media

Social media isn’t all bad news for your wallet. It can help you discover new products and learn what people you trust think about them.

Still, it can also give you a little bit too much inspiration to spend.

I’m guilty too. A few months ago, I kept buying books I saw on TikTok when I already had more books than I could read in months, so I had to put myself on a “book buying ban.” Another time I bought a gua sha tool I saw in an ad on the same platform, and I barely use it now.

Not the proudest moments of my life.

To avoid this kind of behavior, I suggest asking yourself the following questions before you make a purchase.

Is this product from a legitimate seller?

It’s unfortunate to spend money on a product you’ll regret buying, but it’s worse when you don’t even get the product or the product you receive isn’t what’s advertised.

Such scams aren’t rare on social media, especially when you buy right through the platform. Do your research on the seller before parting with your money. Look for reviews from other buyers, check the comment section under product posts and go to commenters’ profiles to see if they’re real. If anything sparks doubt or if you can’t find any information at all, it’s best to avoid shopping from the seller.

Does this product have good reviews?

Speaking of reviews, they’re your best friend. It’s not enough that your favorite influencer praises the product. Remember, they get paid or get the product for free, and while that might not impact their opinion, there’s also a chance that it does. You want to hear from real customers.

I usually skip good reviews and go straight to one and two stars, as they give you the worst-case scenarios of what to expect. If it’s a couple of complaints about something that’s not the seller’s or the product’s fault, which happens, it’s a good sign. But if you see a lot of bad reviews consistently pointing at the same issue, it’s probably a good idea to stay away.

Is this purchase in my budget?

I know, I know. What a horrible question to ask when you’re feeling that rush of dopamine from the thought of buying something fantastic you’ve seen in your friend’s post. Plus, if it fits in their budget, why shouldn’t it fit in yours?

First of all, what do we know about your friend’s budget? They may very well be low on savings or in credit card debt—that’s not something they’d likely post on Instagram about.

One way or another, you wouldn’t want to find yourself low on savings or in debt just to keep up with the Joneses. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have shopping expenses. Just make sure you’ve considered this type of spending in your budget and your purchase won’t exceed the limit you’ve set for yourself.

Can this purchase wait until next week?

Social media promotes instant gratification, which is a tendency that can be harmful not just to your mental health, but your financial health as well.

Just because you can buy something right now, doesn’t mean you should. I realize it’s easier said than done, but waiting just a little can save you regrets—and money.

Try to compromise with yourself by agreeing to buy the product you want in a week. If you still want it in seven days, it’s safe to assume your desire to buy wasn’t purely an impulse triggered by the behavioral patterns social media has made common. That’s great news—now proceed to check out that virtual cart of yours!

Do you have the right credit card for your purchase?

When you’ve made sure your purchase is a good idea, it’s time to pick the best credit card to pay for it.

For instance, if you’re planning to pay off your purchase gradually, you’ll need a 0% APR credit card to avoid interest. Or, if you’re planning a trip soon, your purchase can get you closer to covering some of your travel expenses with points if you pay with a travel credit card.

Depending on which credit cards you have, you may earn extra rewards on your purchase. For example, some cash back credit cards may reward you beautifully for shopping on Amazon, while others can earn bonus cash back for spending in certain categories.

The bottom line

Social media impacts multiple aspects of our lives, including our spending patterns and buying decisions. Millennials are especially prone to being influenced by social media when it comes to shopping.

Before you click that “buy now” link, be sure to do your research on the seller, check your budget and give yourself time to determine whether you really need the product. If you do, pick a good credit card to pay for it to help you save on interest and earn rewards. Here’s to mindful shopping!

Written by
Ana Staples
Credit Cards Reporter and Young Credit Analyst
Ana Staples is a reporter for Bankrate and an expert on all things credit basics and personal finance for the younger generation.
Edited by
Senior Editor, Credit Card Product News