Social & mobile consumer behaviour trends for 2012
The speed with which social media is becoming entwined with the average consumer's 'purchase journey' is increasingly rapidly, according to research by social commerce company Reevoo.
Following earlier research in March 2011, a new study in December 2011 found that consumers' reliance on social sources - including friends and consumer reviews - is increasing in almost every measure and, surprisingly, across all age groups.
Among the key trends identified by the survey:
- Facebook commerce (i.e. the act of buying products through Facebook) has doubled in just six months, climbing from 4% to 8%.
- Shoppers are increasingly turning to Facebook for product recommendations, with 24% saying they now regularly use it to see what their friends have liked (up from 22% in the March survey), 27% asking friends for product recommendations (up from 19%), and 21% checking which products their friends have bought and recommended (up from 15%).
- Mobile phone usage to access social sources of information is on the rise. More than half of consumers say they now own a smartphone (57% compared to 49% in March), and they are not afraid to use them. Some 28% read reviews on their mobiles, 24% (up from 18% in March) use their smartphone in-store to find discount vouchers or coupons, while 9% (up from 6%) use their phone to read customer reviews while in-store.
- Friends' recommendations remain the most important factor in making a purchase decision. They are now ranked as "important" by 74%, up from 70% in March. The importance of consumer reviews written by strangers also increased from 62% to 65%.
- Recommendations based on what Facebook friends 'Like' have increased in usefulness from 15% to 17%, while recommendations based on what Facebook friends actually bought grew significantly from 13% to 18%.
- Multichannel shopping is also more popular. The proportion of consumers researching their purchases using at least three channels from a list comprising mobile, Facebook, online and offline has increased to 39% from 36%, while the proportion using all four channels rose from 8% to 10%.
- Older consumers are increasingly turning to consumer generated product reviews before making a purchase decision. 32% of over 65s and 27% of the 55-64 age group always read reviews before making a purchase (up from 21% and 22% respectively).
- The popularity of online shopping has increased by 10 percentage points (49%, up from 39%). In addition consumers are increasingly beginning their research online for all purchases (46%, up from 40%).
- 56% of respondents said they have written a product review (up from 47%) and half of those who have written a review have also shared it with friends. Almost all (95%) of respondents said they sometimes or always read reviews before making a purchase decision.
According to Richard Anson, founder and CEO for Reevoo, "In repeating this research so soon after we first conducted it, we hoped to identify the rate at which the consumer purchase journey is becoming social, and the speed at which it is becoming an accepted part of our shopping lives. The results have confirmed our view that it is indeed a rapid process, and that it is a phenomenon that is changing the behaviour of all consumer age-groups."