Consumers Turn to Social Media When Shopping for Products

A survey on buying habits found 77 percent of consumers regularly use their smartphones to access reviews and recommendations while they’re shopping.

social media and shopping

Social media is fast becoming the most powerful tool available to marketers, according to a survey by Influence Central, which found 81 percent of consumers frequently buy items they’ve seen shared on social media.

The survey also found 81 percent say product reviews influence the way they shop, while 72 percent say the ability to check social media recommendations takes the guesswork out of buying a new product.

"Our study's most compelling findings revealed the powerful degree to which social media has literally transformed how women consumers shop," Stacy DeBroff, founder and CEO of Influence Central, told eWEEK. "The currency of social media impacts consumers throughout their path to purchase—from 86 percent saying social media content has become a chief source of online research to 87 percent saying they’re more likely to buy brands more regularly that they engage with on social media."

She explained this upends the traditional focus of shopper dollars going to in-store and traditional advertising.

The survey also found 64 percent of those surveyed say they become more generally aware of a product when they see an ad for it on television.

However, just 1.9 percent of consumers say seeing a TV ad impacts their decision to buy the product and just 2.2 percent decide to buy a product when seeing an article or mention of it in a newspaper or magazine.

She noted that what’s striking is how much shoppers are willing to seek out and share social media recommendations—77 percent always take their phone with them while shopping so they can have reviews and recommendations at their fingertips.

She referenced the fact that respondents cited the different types of social media shares that influence the way they shop, from recipes (60 percent) to product images (57 percent) to testimonials (53 percent).

"The power of authentic, first-person influencer content on social media channels—combined with consumers' increasing reliance on smartphones as a shopping tool—demonstrates that social shopper will become a key investment for brands," DeBroff said. "Moreover, our study illuminated how 82 percent of women consumers say the ability to glean insights and recommendations from social media has changed the way they gather opinions and information."

She explained that 72 percent say the ability to check social media recommendations has taken the guesswork out of buying a new product, and she expects these numbers to increase over the rest of the year.