Social media increasingly linked to purchasing decisions

IBM study finds consumers validating buying decisions via social platforms
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Research commissioned by IBM has found an increasing trend toward consumers taking influence from social media when making purchasing decisions.

Carrying out research on product and prices through services such as Twitter and Facebook, which often have company specific pages, consumers will then validate their buying choices using the views of like-minded shoppers, according to the study.

50 per cent of respondents aged 16 through 64 with internet access used social networks as a tool to aid shopping decisions and among those, 35 per cent stated they would use social media platforms to read reviews, or rank products and services. Further to this, 25 per cent of these adults thought it was 'important' to be able to use social media to assist with purchasing decisions.

Among the same group, 57 per cent said that they will most likely 'follow' a retailer or brand on a social network to receive free trials or discount promotions.

David Hogg, commerce solutions regional leader at IBM, told the Retail Bulletin: “Social media provides a new window through which retailers can deliver a more personal brand experience across all buying channels. By harnessing real-time customer analytics from social media, retailers can act upon what is being said, delivering a personalised marketing offer based on the customers’ shopping profile, preferences and decisions, helping retailers to maximise revenues.”

Mobile phones represented a big surge in sales opportunity via the web. 51 per cent of those surveyed said they had previously shopped via their mobile, with 67 per cent of those stating that being able to capture and place the order via mobile was a much appreciated convenience.

“It is clear to see that the mobile phone is no longer just a viewing screen or digital catalogue - there is a growing acceptance of shopping through the mobile. As well connecting to these customers through their preferred channel, retailers also need to make sure they have the means of effectively managing their supplier and trading partner network to ensure they have the products at the right time and place to meet changing consumer demands.” concluded Hogg.

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