Social Media Connections Yield Women's Shopping Trust And Convenience

In 2016, Influence Central surveyed more than 400 U.S. women, looking at major trends in social media recommendations and reviews to determine the overall impact of social media when consumers need advice, opinions, and recommendations.   

The research findings about today’s social media recommendations and reviews show that the current shopping landscape looks far different than it did in previous generations. No longer do consumers drive from store to store looking for the best deal, endlessly buy the same brands they grew up using, or find themselves swayed into a purchase after seeing an in-store display.

Today’s cohort of shoppers has become far more discerning and less impulsive than ever, says the report, scrolling through e-commerce reviews for product insight and specifics, and embarking on shopping excursions, online and off, armed with informed opinions on every item before handing over their credit cards.

New findings from Influence Central’s newest Consumer Insights Study reveals how the profound growth of social media recommendations and online reviews has upended how consumers gather information, says the report. Authentic feedback, expressed by a trusted source, has a greater impact on consumers’ behavior at the tipping point of the decision to make a purchase than any other form of marketing. Today, consumers increasingly look to their trusted social networks for advice before making purchases. 

Consumers point out that they are more active on social media, have more connections, and say they know who they can trust for good advice. 

  • 96% say they’re likely to seek out opinions and recommendations from others before they buy a product, or try out a service, restaurant, or store 
  • 91% look beyond in-person family and friends to tap social networks when they have a need
  • 86% of women consumers tap members of their social media network for their opinions, advice, and recommendations 
  • 86% use social media and websites to access recommendations they use to make purchasing decisions 
  • 72% connect with their social media community frequently to help make everyday purchasing decisions

The study finds that social media sparks connections, fosters relationships, with 91% of women consumers who agree that “social media has dramatically increased the number of people I feel an ongoing connection to, literally expanding my active circle of friends.” 

As social media matures as a communications channel, the connections we can make prove more diverse, the responders conclude. The top three categories of influencers include: 

  • Friends/friends of friends (59%) 
  • Extended family/family friends (47%) 
  • Former school chums (39%)

At the same time, women consumers increasingly reach out socially to share their own opinions with their social network, with 72% of women consumers often sharing their own opinions, advice, and recommendations via social media.

When asked “…what makes recommendations particularly useful”, two responses tied as top answers to this question with 65% saying: 

  • An objective point of view 
  • Honest/authentic/verified
  • Traditional media ranks last, suggesting a significant shift says the report

With a newfound faith in the efficiency and utility of peer recommendations, consumers are turning to them more and more:

  • With 80% saying that they often seek peer recommendations before making purchasing decisions
  • While 59% often turn to experts for recommendations

As they look at online opinions or recommendations, women consumers cited the following as the Top 2 signals that they can trust the recommendation: 

  • Speaks from firsthand experience 
  • Verified user, purchaser

When asked which attributes are most important when it comes to evaluating the opinions or recommendations of others before buying or trying, women consumers said:

  • Experience with the products/service/place 
  • Similarity to me in life stage and lifestyle

Stacy DeBroff, Founder & CEO, Influence Central Influence Insights, concludes by saying, “… as social surrounds us… we’ve never had more on-call peers to advise us… peer advisors, experts, niche experts, and trend-spotters… we’ve actually encircled ourselves within the web… in a circle of opinions that we welcome…” 

To read more of the Influence Central report, please visit here.



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