Social Has Little Impact on Online Shopping

Social media has little influence on consumers’ digital shopping behaviors, lagging behind other forms of digital media, according to a new report from global technology and research consultant Capgemini, titled “Digital Shopper Relevancy Research Report 2014.”

The study, based on 18,000 interviews with digital shoppers in 18 countries around the world, examined how consumers gather information and make product purchases in categories including food, health and personal care, fashion, DIY, and electronics. The survey questions addressed both traditional and digital media channels, across a range of devices.

Fashion has the most e-commerce momentum, Capgemini found, with 61% of respondents saying they have shopped online for fashion items in the last six months, up 9% from 2012. Next up was electronics, with more than half of respondents saying they shopped online in this category in the last six months, followed by health care at 44%. Looking ahead, overall 51% of respondents said they expect to predict spend more money online than in-store in the next three years.

Asked what channels they prefer for gathering information about potential purchases, a large majority (75%) cited the Internet in general, including Web sites and email. Meanwhile respondents judged social media less important than other factors including conventional retail store experience, email, and smartphone apps.

Indeed the proportion of respondents who said social media informed their shopping decisions actually declined over the last two years. Across all categories, on a scale of one to five respondents scored social media 3.02 for generating awareness, down from 3.09 in 2012. Similarly social media’s relative importance in enabling choice fell from 2.99 to 2.93. Fewer digital shoppers expect social media to change their shopping process in the future, at 3.35, down from 3.39.

In terms of specific activity, fewer consumers are finding out about products through recommendations on blogs and social networks, following retailers on Twitter or Facebook, or sharing reviews. Only 29% of respondents said they don’t mind if retailers use their social media data, and 33% said they didn’t want retailers to make any use of their social media data at all.

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