Shop.org study finds social media at center of new retail strategies
Home & Textiles Today Staff -- Home Textiles Today, June 1, 2012
Washington - Almost two out of five - 38% - of online consumers follow retailers through one or more social networking sites, and Pinterest is increasingly the favored venue.
Online U.S. consumers using social media follow an average of 9.3 retail companies on Pinterest, compared to the average 6.9 retailers they follow on Facebook and the 8.5 retailers they track via Twitter, according to the recent 2012 Social and Mobile Commerce Study, a joint research project by NRF's Shop.org division with comScore Inc. and The Partnering Group.
"Never before has social media been so attractive to consumers, literally," Shop.org noted.
The report, which surveyed 1,507 online U.S. consumers and was conducted in March by comScore, shows that as social media continues to grow, retailers are actively evaluating where their customers want them to be. The results show that company blogs, YouTube and Facebook command the majority of consumers' social activity.
In particular, 70% of those who follow a retailer's blog click through to the website, and though sometimes overlooked in the overall social media mix, more than 68% of consumers use YouTube to browse and research a retail company.
"Retailers have done a commendable job embracing social media -- engaging their customers where it makes sense while keeping their brand relevant, interesting, appealing and exciting on each platform," said Shop.org executive director Vicki Cantrell. "Specifically, Pinterest has given retailers another channel to ‘listen' to and interact with both existing and new customers, telling an ongoing visual story through images of their products and their brand ‘spirit,' a story that customers can then tell again to their friends and family members."
Finding good deals is still the leading reason consumers shop online, but less so these days. This year, 51% said they follow a retailer to get information on deals and coupons, down from 58% who said so last year. Four in 10 (43%) said they are looking for product information and 36% want to post and/or read comments about merchandise or services.
Three in 10 consumers who follow retailers through social media said they are actively looking for information about events (34%), current trends and ideas (31%), or photos and videos (30%), such as "how-to's" and styling ideas, as well as expert opinions (27%).
Smartphone-toting consumers, the study found, are interested in sharing their location with retailers. One-third (33%) of those who own smartphones said they have shared their location with retailers. Location-based services, such as Groupon Now!, FourSquare and Facebook have helped retailers instantly reach customers by targeting special offers, discounts and coupons to their mobile devices once they've "checked-in."
Jennifer Vlahavas, senior director of comScore, said retailers "have just begun to scratch the surface of using location data to better serve their customers. In-store shopping maps and customized shopping lists are a few of the emerging mobile technologies that promise to shape consumers' future behavior."
The study found that men are more likely than women to share their location with a retailer (40% vs. 25%, respectively), and 46% of those between the ages of 18 and 34 said they have shared their location, compared to just 22% of those ages 35 to 54.
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