Thoughts on “The Socialized Shopper”

“Social media impacts behavior throughout the shopping process.” This is perhaps the most profound takeaway from Mark Renshaw’s article on HUB, The Socialized Shopper (2010). This study, which reviews social media usage as it relates to shopping and purchase behavior, has several significant insights, but this one is perhaps the most telling and also the most useful to marketing communications planners.

Marketers of products and services with long sales cycles have long known it is important to finds ways with potential customers through the entire life of the cycle. Renshaw points out that traditional media are likely to have the most impact when a consumer is at the front end of a purchase cycle, in-store contact will be most important toward the end, but that social media can have impact can have consistent impact throughout.

However, herein lays the rub. With the newness of social media as a platform, we are still searching for the mix of social media and associated messaging that is most impactful and appropriate at the right times. As marketers, we do not yet have a firm grasp on how to best use social media contacts to directly drive transactions.

Social media messages must be both constantly available (for those newbies to the purchase information search) on a source such as customer info panels, and yet personalized and available when signals from we buyers indicate that more information is needed. Solving this messaging/timing issue will help the world to beat a path to your door.

The article contains two other main points worth remembering for integrated marketing professionals:

1)  Conventional media is not dead: In fact, it is more likely that Social Media shoppers will use conventional media to assist the decision making process than non-Social Media shoppers. In fact, on average they will consult 7.5 “traditional” sources (defined as television, radio, magazine, newspaper ads and direct mail) as opposed to the 4.3 sources consulted by non-Social media users. Interestingly enough, they are only likely to consult 3 social media information points.

2)  Social media has more impact on purchases with higher risk and reward. Renshaw argues that this may be due to a lack of suitable contacts for feedback on lower involvement, commodity type products, but in reality, it is more likely due to the lower perceived risk and lessened impact of a negative outcome (Buttner, Schultz & Silberer, 2006).

Renshaw states that social media budgets are anticipated to grow more quickly over the next 5 years than any other online advertising budgets. This expectation certainly makes finding the best way to gain a return on these expenditures of the utmost importance.

References:

Buttner, O.B., Schultz, S., & Silberer. (2006). Perceived risk and deliberation in retailer choice: Consumer behavior toward online pharmacies. Advances in Consumer Research, 33. Retrieved November 1, 2009, from the WVU eCampus Web site: https://ecampus.wvu.edu

HUB magazine. (2010, January/February). The Socialized Shopper. Retrieved January 27, 2010, from http://www.hubmagazine.com/archives/the_hub/2010/jan_feb/the_hub34_arc.pdf

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One Response to “Thoughts on “The Socialized Shopper””

  1. Laura Phillips Garner Says:

    I especially appreciate the point about marketers trying to figure out how to best use social media in the buying process. Sephora e-mailed me today to let me know that the cosmetics specialty store now has a mobile application that will allow me to pull up ratings of products from its Web site. I am also glad to hear that traditional media is not dead not only for economic reasons (think of all the lost jobs) but also because having choice of media offers richness to the marketing experience, and, well, life in general.

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