Monday, March 11, 2013

New Research Shows How Consumers Use and Value Online and Social Media During Purchases

Marketers continue to grapple with how to optimize the role of online and social media in their media mix. A new study from leading market research firm Radius Global Market Research (Radius GMR) sheds light on the matter by asking consumers about how they use online and social media as they consider purchases within a number of key product categories.

“While marketers understand the importance of managing their brands online, there’s still uncertainty as to the proper weight to put behind digital media channels, especially social media, to optimize return on investment,” says Chip Lister, Managing Director of Radius GMR. “Our study put the question to consumers, and results yield some important insights that may impact marketing strategies.”

Social media is used less often than traditional channels for informing purchase decisions, but its influence is still meaningful.
Radius GMR’s study shows that consumers remain much more likely to obtain or share information via more traditional online channels (typically used 50% of the time or more, depending on product or service category) than they are via social media when considering a new purchase. However, social media still has an influence over anywhere from 9% to 39% of purchases, depending on the product or service category. 

Consumers turn to online resources most often for big ticket and emotional purchases.
Consumers surveyed by Radius GMR indicted that they are most likely to use online information to inform purchase decisions around big-ticket purchases, such as travel (76% used during last purchase), electronics (73%), automobiles (67%), baby care equipment (66%), and household appliances (64%). Social networking is most often used around baby care equipment (39%), electronics (35%), automobiles (28%), Toys and games (23%), and household appliances (23%). Online sources and social media are less often used around several CPG and personal care categories including makeup/personal care, home care products, OTC pharmaceuticals, beverages, and packaged foods.

“It’s apparent that social media is more influential in those more emotionally connected service and product categories like baby care,” adds Lister. “From our survey results it appears that mothers tend to seek out via social media the opinion of other mothers and are influenced by them fairly often.”

Consumers are less likely to engage online about brands after making a purchase.
As a general rule, purchasers across all categories are most likely to utilize online sources before making a purchase vs. sharing information about their experience with the product after purchase. Two categories are an exception to this rule. Purchasers of personal care and makeup products are more likely to gather or share information after purchasing than they are while making a purchase.

And smartphone purchasers are almost as likely to utilize an online source after a purchase as they are during a purchase.