Offline WoM most influential among parents

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By: Wise Marketer Staff |

Posted on November 4, 2011

Offline WoM most influential among parents

British parents spend an average of 14 hours a week of their personal time on the internet, six hours of which are on social networking sites such as Facebook or Twitter - but all that social networking is not having a significant impact on purchasing decisions when compared to offline conversations with friends and family, according to research from word-of-mouth agency Different Size Feet.

Only 1% of the parents surveyed said that social networks were a key influence when considering purchases, and only 7% cited advertising as a key influencer of their purchase decisions (this was the key driver mainly in the food and drink category).

The research surveyed more than 1,000 parents aged 25-44 and examined family purchasing decisions across six main product categories including automotive, domestic appliances, food and drink, health and beauty, and family leisure.

Offline conversation with friends was by far the most influential source across the product categories tested with 26% of parents putting this first, closely followed by conversation with partners at 18%.

According to Carrie Grafham who heads up Different Size Feet, "Nowadays social networking sites are an important aspect of people's daily online visits, with mothers being one of the main user groups. However, in spite of 17% following more than 6 brands on Facebook, the impact of social networking sites on their purchasing decisions is often overstated. We concluded that, in spite of the amount of time spent online, offline conversation with friends and family - rather than social media - is still the most influential, regardless of product category."

Other web sites frequently visited by parents included:

  • Shopping or auction sites (44.5%);
  • Video sharing sites such as YouTube (28%);
  • Online media players (26.5%);
  • Money saving and group deal sites (21%).

However, only 12% of parents often visit brands' websites, and online reviews were found to be less influential than offline conversations, featuring as a key influence only in domestic appliances (31%) and holidays (18%).

The study also indicated that special interest blogs and forums are becoming more mainstream reading for parents, and are now potentially more influential than parenting blogs and forums (which are increasingly being used by major brands to promote their products). Some 24% of parents claimed to have visited a special interest blog during the previous week, and 21% had visited a specialised forum (with fathers driving this trend at 31%), compared to only 11% for parenting blogs and 14% for parenting forums.

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