New Study Finds Shopping is Almost Entirely Social

I came across an article last week that drove home something I think most of us already know - consumers are more likely to trust social contacts, like friends and family, than retailers when it comes to deciding what to buy.

The article, published on Internet Retailing, laid out some pretty compelling statistics about how we, as consumers, make our shopping decisions:

  • 70% rate their friends recommendations as ‘important’
  • 28% value recommendations from a shop assistant
  • 62% value consumer reviews
  • 35% value recommendations from mainstream media.

The study, conducted by FlyResearch, surveyed 1,200 people to draw their conclusions.

Digging deeper into the next layer the study found that 87% of respondents look at consumer reviews before making a purchase and 69% said it actually lent more credibility if there were negative reviews mixed in with the positive.

This really shouldn’t come as a surprise to us, should it? Word of mouth has always been more powerful than the savviest of marketing campaigns. The difference is that social media and comparative reviews have given consumers the ability to expand their network of ‘trusted recommendations’ over a much wider area not constrained by geography or real-life social circles.

The other point this study illustrates is that consumers tend to prefer “real” over “polished.” They would rather see all viewpoints on a product or service, not just the positive ones.

How does this translate to your business? What sort of social currency can you include on your site that will help boost consumer confidence in what you’re promoting? As always, your constructive comments are welcome.