Social Media Now Has A Larger Role In Purchasing Decisions

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Consumers either purchased a product after social media introduced it to them, or changed their opinion of a product they had no knowledge of after social media influenced their buying decision.

According to a new report from the Commerce Department, a study conducted by the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) hints social media fueled a large portion of consumer spending on retail sales last December.

The rapid growth of digital and social media somehow eased the way for Facebook’s Likes and Twitter’s tweets to generate dollars for brands and businesses, including startups.

The new study revealed that almost one-third of consumers said they bought an unfamiliar product after social media either introduced it to them or helped change their opinion of the brand.

Entitled “Digital & Social Media in the Purchase Decision Process,” the study found that none of the 2,000 respondents had a single path to purchase.

It added that the importance of social media’s role on each step is growing, with 22 percent of the shoppers saying that social media was vital on their final decision to buy a brand or product.

Todd Powers, executive vice president of primary research at the ARF, said an important insight the organization has yielded is that today’s consumers are always engaged because of brand exposure, even during their normal activities.

The continual engagement with brands via digital and social media is changing the traditional way the purchasing funnel works, and it appeals the idea that consumers are always mindful of influences on their decisions, Powers added.

Purchasing Funnel

Featured image by Laura Dinneen via Flickr (CC)

The robust five-month survey by the ARF included several researchers and benefactors: Communispace, comScore, Converseon, The Fuqua School of Business at Duke University, Firefly / Millward Brown, GM, Google, Kraft, and Y&R.

Panel members said that they deliberately extended their band of trusted people online to help them purchase items.

According to the ARF, social media also has a key role after the purchase – consumers are at the peak of excitement right after the final purchase, with “joy” as the most expressed emotion in status updates.

Powers said consumers want to choose, with confidence and under their own terms, when and where to shop; they want all the necessary information to match the seller in the purchase; and they want to feel joyful and proud after the purchase.

With more than 400 members, the ARF is an association that aggregates, creates, and shares well-researched knowledge to help its members polish their advertising decisions.

The ARF is the only organization that brings all practitioners of the advertising industry – agency, academia, marketer, media, and research – to one table for strategic collaboration and exchange of ideas.

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Author: Francis Rey

Francis is a voracious reader and prolific writer. He has been writing about social media and technology for more than 10 years. During off hours, he relishes moments with his wife and daughter.

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