Social media has most sway on purchases of baby toys, games and mobiles

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Cawley: brands must be aware of the impact of different touch points on a customer's purchase journey

Cawley: brands must be aware of the impact of different touch points on a customer’s purchase journey

Social media exerts the biggest influence on purchases of baby toys, video games/systems and mobile phones, a global study into shopping behaviour by brand activation agency Arc reveals.

Its PeopleShop report – a global study into the shopping behaviour, attitudes and motivations of 13,000 consumers – shows shoppers are almost three times more likely to use social media when purchasing video games and video game systems, with the touch point influencing 27% of all purchases. 

In comparison, the study found of the product categories analysed, on average 10% of purchases are influenced in some way by social media.

Arc analysed shoppers’ behaviour across 20 commonly bought product categories in order to identify which touch points influenced their purchasing decisions. 

The study revealed the influence of social media on the path to purchase is by no means universal, with its influence varying depending on the product category being shopped. 

While social media plays a key part in purchases of video games and systems and baby toys, its role is less strong in categories such as yogurts and lager, where only 1% and 2% of consumers cite the touchpoint as an influence.

Why social media is so influential in purchases of video games, baby toys and mobile phones is in part explained by the joint findings social media is primarily used as a research tool and these are some of the most researched categories (78% of shoppers of baby toys stated ‘I like to compare brands’), said researchers. 

Indeed, when shoppers were asked how they use the touch point to shop, 47% of consumers state they use social media to research products compared to sharing information (30%), engagement (28%), comparing and locating products (27% and 15%), seeking confirmation (27%) and buying (10%).

How influential are other digital touch points?

Of all the digital touch points analysed by Arc, search engines were identified as having the greatest impact on consumers’ decisions, on average influencing 17% of purchases. Email, social media and online bidding websites followed with 11% and 10%, respectively. 

QR codes were found to have the smallest impact on consumers, on average only being used by 2% of shoppers, yet when purchasing baby food the study found shoppers are four-times more likely to use them, said Arc.

Mobiles and tablets are cited by consumers as relatively minor influences on purchasing decisions, on average only being used by 7% and 4% of shoppers. 

However, these touch points have a greater than average influence in the purchase of mobile phones, with consumers over four times more likely to use a tablet or mobile when shopping for this item.

Diana Cawley, managing director at Arc, said: “With an ever increasing array of touchpoints available, it’s more important than ever brands understand the impact different touch points have on shoppers’ path to purchase.”

“Our PeopleShop study shows no two products are alike – for every category, shoppers are influenced by a range of different psychological, physiological and social factors. If brands want to communicate effectively with their audience, an understanding of shoppers’ mindset, needs, occasions and touch points is a must.”

Arc’s PeopleShop study is based on a study of 13,000 consumers from the US, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Spain. In the UK, a further nationally representative sample of 2,000 consumers were surveyed by Research Now between 20-23 August 2012.

Table 1. Average percentage of digital touch points used to influence shoppers’ purchasing decisions 

Search engine 17%
Email 11%
Social network 10%
Online bidding website 10%
Company/ Manufacturer website 9%
Product review website 8%
Mobile phone 7%
Deal/ coupon website 6%
Blog or online message board 5%
Tablet device 4%
QR code 2%

Table 2. Percentage of consumers that use social media when shopping for specified product category 

Product category average 10%
Video games 27%
Video game systems 27%
Baby & toddler toys 23%
Mobile phones 19%
Baby food 16%
Flavoured alcoholic drinks 15%
Cider 8%
Energy drinks 8%
Chocolate 8%
Spirits 7%
Computer printers 7%
Beer 6%
Instant Coffee 5%
Carbonated soft drinks 4%
Table sauces 3%
Cooking sauces 3%
Wine 2%
Lager 2%
Yoghurt 1%
Hot savoury snacks 1%

Table 3. Percentage of consumers that use mobile phones when shopping for specified product category 

Product category average 7%
Mobile phones 40%
Video game systems 16%
Baby & toddler toys 15%
Baby food 12%
Video games 12%
Carbonated soft drinks 6%
Computer printers 6%
Cider 6%
Flavoured alcoholic drinks 6%
Wine 5%
Energy drinks 5%
Instant Coffee 4%
Spirits 3%
Beer 2%
Table sauces 2%
Cooking sauces 2%
Chocolate 2%
Yoghurt 1%
Hot savoury snacks 1%
Lager 0%

Table 4. Percentage of consumers that use tablets when shopping for specified product category

Product category average 4%
Mobile phones 17%
Video games 10%
Baby & toddler toys 9%
Baby food 8%
Video game systems 7%
Computer printers 6%
Flavoured alcoholic drinks 6%
Beer 3%
Carbonated soft drinks 3%
Cider 3%
Energy drinks 3%
Spirits 2%
Cooking sauces 2%
Instant Coffee 2%
Wine 1%
Chocolate 1%
Lager 0%
Table sauces 0%
Yoghurt 0%
Hot savoury snacks 0%

Table 5. How different digital touch points are used by shoppers

Engagement Research Location Comparison Confirmation Buying Sharing
Social network 28% 47% 15% 27% 10% 10% 30%
Mobile phone 20% 38% 20% 27% 16% 25% 16%
Tablet device 18% 54% 27% 37% 23% 27% 10%