Canadians Skeptical of Social Media for Shopping

Canadian consumers use social media for researching products, but still prefer to do their shopping in brick-and-mortar retail venues, according to a PricewaterhouseCooper’s “2013 Global Multi-Channel Retail Survey” for Canada.

While 42% of 1,333 Canadians surveyed by PwC say they use social media at least once a day, and another 17% use it at least once a week, only about 7% said they use social media to shop. Globally, the proportion of survey respondents who said they use social media for shopping was 12%, according to PwC. Canadians were also less likely to use social media in general, with 29% saying they never use social media, compared to 24% of the global survey respondents. What’s more, a quarter Canadian respondents said they rarely or never shop online in any form, compared to 17% of all respondents globally.

The data on social media shopping habits seems to echo some other recent surveys (of American consumers) which found that social media was the source of only a small proportion of e-commerce during the 2012 holiday season. According to IBM, Facebook was responsible for just 0.68% of traffic referred to leading e-commerce sites this past holiday shopping season. Looking at all e-commerce, the dominant social media players (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube) together were responsible for just 0.34% of all online e-commerce referrals.

On the positive side, some new studies suggest that social media does affect consumer purchase decisions, even if the purchases aren’t made online as a direct result of using social media. Last week I wrote about a study from the Advertising Research Foundation based on a survey of 2,000 U.S. shoppers, which found that roughly one-third of shoppers said they were either introduced to a brand or product, or changed their opinion about a brand or product during the buying process, because of social media. In addition, 22% of shoppers surveyed by the ARF said that social media was “important in my final purchase decision.”

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