Recent Social Media Research (Julia)

Social media drawing in early adopting shoppers

By Ed Owen,, 28 February 2011, 08:55AM

Six per cent of shoppers have made purchases through social media campaigns, with 9% actively following brands, and 37% saying brand presence on social media is pointless, according to new research.

The study, conducted by researcher Shoppercentric, also suggests gender differences – men use social media to shop, and women prefer to use it to interact with others.

Danielle Pinnington, managing director at Shoppercentric, said: “The gender and age divides between these social and mobile platforms could be put to good use by retailers, to better target and engage their customers.”

  • 38% of men, but just 29% of women own a smartphone.
  • Facebook is used by 56% of people – 60% of women, but just 52% of men.
  • 14% of men shop using apps, but only 8% of women do.
  • 27% of male shoppers use price comparison sites, while only 19% of women do.

Retailers are proving to be the gateways for brands, with 75% of people visiting retail websites, but less than half that number – 33% – going to brand websites.

Meanwhile, 63% of shoppers will buy through either a retail or brand website. For social media campaigns, this figure falls to 6%.

Pinnington said: “There also seems to be a fundamental barrier in consumers’/shoppers’ minds as to why they should communicate directly with a brand, or why a brand would want to communicate directly with them. That doesn’t mean they won’t communicate with brands – it simply means brands need to work much harder to set up and maintain the connection.

“Brands need to think hard about what they want to share, not just what they want to get out of the conversation.  And they need to work on the basis they have to seek out these connections rather than assuming consumers/shoppers will come to them.

“Ultimately, they need to create a social network space that generates curiosity in the brand, and gives a reason for visitors to keep coming back.”

Using social media, the main reasons for connecting with brands was found to be:

  • 32% – finding out something new
  • 23% – for brands to connect with them
  • 24% – to be sold something by brands
  • 12% – for brands or retailers to help them have fun

More than half (54%) of people thought brands or retailers used social media to sell more products, while 43% thought it was “because everyone else is”.

Reasons for consumers to follow brands on social media:

  • 32% – feel part of a group
  • 29% – to be part of a forum
  • 10% – for discounts or promotions
  • 6% – to complain

Falling brand engagement by age group through social networks:

  • 16- to 24-year-olds – 38%
  • 25- to 34-year-olds – 29%
  • 35- to 44-year-olds – 18%
  • 45- 54-year-olds – 8%
  • 55+ – 0% of sample

In addition, 56% of the 55+ age group said they could not see the point of social networking.

Dr Susan Rose, associate professor in marketing management at the Henley Business School, commented: “This latest report gives us valuable insight into how different customers today are embracing social media, and the impact that it is having on how they both search for product information and make buying decisions.

“As we move to a truly connected world, retailers are faced with a bewildering array of new media such as Twitter and Facebook. This report helps us to understand this new customer meeting place.”

About the research

The findings are based on both qualitative and quantitative interviews. The qualitative research consisted of two focus groups among 18-35 year old shoppers who are on social media. Half of the respondents also had to have smartphones. In addition four industry interviews were completed.

The quantitative research consisted of 1,000 interviews using an on-line panel with adults aged 18-64 years. Quotas were set on gender, age, SEG, and geography to achieve nationally representative sample.

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