The Growing Role of Social Media in the Purchasing Decision
January 2013 -- According to a new study from the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF), nearly one-third of shoppers surveyed say social media:
- Introduced them to a brand or product they were previously unfamiliar with, or
Helped change their opinion of a brand during the buying decision process.
The study, Digital & Social Media in the Purchase Decision Process, explores changes in the purchase process for consumer goods (automobiles, electronics, and groceries) brought about by digital and social media. The study combined surveys, web-listening and social media content analyses, and in-depth exploration through interviews, ethnography and online communities to listen to and learn from more than 2,000 U.S. shoppers.
22% OF SHOPPERS NOTED THE ROLE OF SOCIAL MEDIA IN THEIR DECISION-MAKING
The study finds social media plays an increasingly important role in the buying decision process, with more than a fifth of respondents (22%) agreeing that social media was “important in my final purchase decision.”
THE TRADITIONAL PURCHASE FUNNEL IS MORE LIKE A WINDING PATH
The study’s findings include the fact that the traditional linear path to purchase is giving way to a more winding journey and that today’s shopper is “always on” as a result of his or her constant interaction with brands.
SOCIAL MEDIA IS EXPANDING THE RANGE OF CONSUMERS' TRUST
Social media, according to the study, is expanding the range of consumers’ trust, with decision influencers growing beyond traditional trusted sources, such as family, friends and colleagues to include others on Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets, as well as blogs, online forums, and other digital sources.
CONSUMERS TODAY ARE 'ALWAYS ON'
“One of the most important insights we (ARF) generated is that consumers today are always on—being exposed to brands, and even engaging with them, throughout the course of their normal activities,” states Todd Powers, executive vice president, primary research, the Advertising Research Foundation. “This state of constant interaction with brands through digital and social media has come to challenge the purchase funnel, as we have traditionally understood it. This also challenges the notion that consumers are aware of the influences on their purchase decisions, and that they always make decisions consciously.
ARF states the implications of the research are:
- New consumer-engagement metrics should be added to the evolving purchase decision model.
- There is a need for marketers to actively participate in simplifying online information for consumers.
- Marketers have an opportunity to leverage digital and social media to facilitate conversations about their products and brands.
About: Commissioned by the Advertising Research Foundation, the study conducted by Communispace, comScore, Converseon, and Firefly Millward Brown; sponsored by General Motors, Google, Kraft, Motorola, and Young & Rubicam; and with guidance from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. The qualitative, quantitative, and social-listening research was conducted in 2011.
Source: Advertising Research Foundation, Social Media Commands Greater Role in Purchasing Decisions, ARF Study Finds, January 22, 2013, and Marketing Daily, Study: People Always Shopping, Even If Unaware, Dec. 6, 2012.