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      4 min read

      Perspective | How Social Media Influences Purchasing Decisions

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      When today's smarter consumers are in the market for something new — a 3D TV, a sweet DSLR camera, or a reliable microwave oven they turn to their trusty smartphone, knowing there's a wealth of knowledge and information to be had.

      But where or who do they look to for answers?  Well, that depends on what they want to buy and how they want to buy it … With the proliferation of social media, it didn't take long for likes & tweets to affect dollars and cents for brands. 

      The Advertising Research Foundation's new study found that nearly one-third of shoppers said social media either introduced them to a brand or product they were previously unfamiliar with, or helped change their existing opinion of a brand during their buying decision process.

      The study found there is no single path to purchase for the 2,000 shoppers studied, and that social media plays an increasingly important role every step of the way, with 22 percent stating that social media was "important in my final purchase decision."

      Always On Consumers

      One of the most important insights gleaned from the research is that today’s consumers are always on—being exposed to brands, and engaging with them, throughout the course of their daily activities.  This state of constant engagement and interaction with brands through social media has challenged the purchase funnel, as we have traditionally understood it.  

      Today’s consumers are always on—being exposed to brands, and engaging with them, throughout the course of their daily activities


      Survey panel members indicated that they substantially widened their circle of "trusted" people online to help guide them in making a purchase.  Social media also plays an important role in the post-purchase process, according to the Foundation. 

      The study found that consumers get most excited just after they finalize their purchase, with "joy" being the predominant emotion expressed socially.

      • A recent Forbes study reported that 81% of US respondents indicated friends’ social media posts directly influenced their purchase decision

      • The report also stated that 78% of respondents said companies’ social media posts impact their purchases

      • In November of 2012 Business2Community reported that 44% of social media savvy women said their trusted or favorite blogger influences their purchasing decision

      • In 2011 GfK Knowledge Works reported that 38 million 13 to 80 year olds in the U.S. said their purchasing decisions were influenced by social media

      Being the Sellers Equal

      Consumers prefer shopping on their own terms when it comes to time and place, and want to feel confident they're in control of the process.  They want to be equipped with all the information they need to be the seller's equal in the purchase process, and they ultimately want to feel triumphant after a purchase.

      Since word-of-mouth recommendations are one of the cheapest and most effective forms of marketing, getting some background on how online relationships influence the purchasing decisions of consumers is useful for business leaders. 

      The return on investment of social media could be measured by the cost savings derived from trying to obtain the same data by other means, such as focus groups, which are expensive, or surveys, which can be wildly inaccurate.

      Bringing brands, consumers and social sharing capabilities together in one place where everyone can communicate is tremendous challenge for enterprise companies


      Social media influence is growing exponentially; in 2011 sixty-eight percent of Americans said that social networks did not influence their buying decisions.  But in 2012 only thirty-six percent agreed that social had no influence on the products they bought. 

      A huge shift is upon us, and the way brands, service providers and retailers address these new challenges will ultimately define their companies and their bottom line. 

      Bringing brands, consumers and social sharing capabilities together in one place where everyone can communicate is tremendous challenge for enterprise companies. 

      Channel expertise, IT resources, as well as company culture and mindset are hurdles to maneuver. Time to market is critical in providing social influence of your brand, product or services to today’s social mobile consumers.


      Are you interested in finding out more about how social media influences purchasing decisions?

      Join us for our upcoming Webinar:

      Drive Revenue & Loyalty by Engaging Social & Mobile Consumers

      Thursday, April 11, 1:00 PM EST, 12:00 PM Central, 10:00 AM Pacific

      Register Today

      Join Dr. Phillip E. Hendrix Ph.D., Director of the research consultancy firm, immr and Analyst at GigaOm Pro as he shares his findings from the forthcoming whitepaper sponsored by Mize, Inc.

      Dr. Hendrix will be joined by Doug Stephens, one of the world's foremost retail industry futurists and Author of the groundbreaking book; The Retail Revival: Reimagining Business for the New Age of Consumerism.

      This event promises to be both insightful and innovative - we look forward to your attendance at this highly anticipated event. All registrants for this webinar will receive a copy of Dr. Hendrix's whitepaper. As an added bonus ten (10) webinar attendees will win a copy of Doug’s new book.


      Bruce Burke