Online Community Forums and Message Boards Influence Consumer Brand Preference and In-Store Purchases
NEW YORK, May 17 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- According to new research on digital shopper marketing released today by iVillage and SheSpeaks, 77% of women say that they are more likely to look for a product in a store after reading a review about it on a community forum or message board. The majority, 67%, are also more likely to make an in-store purchase as a result of reading about it on a community forum or message board.
The study was conducted jointly by iVillage, the largest online content driven community for women and SheSpeaks(1), which builds consumer insights and advocacy communities, revealed that engagement with women through online community websites, forums and message boards all had a dramatic influence on driving product preference, loyalty and ultimately, purchase.
The study showed that while social media networks like Facebook and Twitter are valuable communications channels, with 51% of women actively following brands and retailers online, these channels were cited as relatively less influential in prompting purchases (19%). Other digital channels such as online coupons (68%), online product reviews by consumers (61%), emails from companies/brands (45%) and articles read online (41%) are much more influential.
"Today's study confirms that the digital resources have redefined shopper marketing by providing a detailed look at how women prepare for, identify, research and ultimately buy, the products and services they need," said Jodi Kahn, Executive Vice President, iVillage. "For brand marketers and retailers alike, the insights are clear – finding the right balance of trusted content with community advice is the best way to reach women along the path to purchase."
"When it comes to building preference and motivating in-store sales, digital is emerging as a strong contender. If brands can motivate trusted customer recommendations and couple them with a "call to action" such as a coupon, it's a powerful one-two punch that drives sales and advocacy," said Aliza Freud, CEO of SheSpeaks.
Additional highlights from the survey include:
- Digital communications have an impact on a variety of brand-related behaviors. Peer recommendations about products on message boards makes women more likely to look for a product in the store (77%), more favorable about the product while shopping (74%), more likely to choose the brand/product over others (70%) and more likely to purchase the product in the store (67%).
- The influence of digital channels varies greatly. Although 51% of women are fans or followers of grocery, health/beauty or household products brands and the stores that carry them, consumer reviews on shopping sites are a top influence for 61% of respondents. Online articles, by comparison, are a top influence with 35% of respondents saying that reading online content (articles) is more influential now than one year ago. Blogs were also identified as an influence by 33% of respondents. Facebook and Twitter fall to the bottom of the list with only 19% saying that posts from friends and 11% saying that posts from brands, are top influencers.
- Whether from online or offline sources, coupons and other consumers' opinions are the top influencers of purchase decisions of food/beverage, health/beauty and household products. Online coupons (68%), store coupons (66%), consumer reviews on shopping sites (61%) and online recommendations from friends (59%) are the top influencers. Sixty percent also say that online coupons are more influential on their purchases now than one year ago and 51% say consumer recommendations on websites are more influential.
- Women are using the Internet to make shopping decisions. 81% of women have visited a superstore website in the past month, 70% visited a food/beverage brand website and 69% visited a health/beauty brand website. They also actively read email newsletters they receive from companies (61% read emails from food/beverage brands, 55% from health and beauty brands and 53% from superstores).
- Women spend between 6 and 60 minutes preparing for a shopping trip. This preparation includes doing product research online and offline, looking for coupons in multiple channels, reading email newsletters, etc. Although research channels used most vary by product category (ex: food/beverage vs. health/beauty), it is clear that brand marketers need to understand which are the most influential digital channels for their specific product.
The Executive Summary of The Shopper Marketing study can be found here: http://www.shespeaks.com/digitalshoppers
SheSpeaks creates and operates consumer insights and influencer communities. SheSpeaks delivers immersive brand experiences to consumers across a wide range of products and services. Via the SheSpeaks platform consumers are provided with a forum to offer their honest thoughts and opinions directly to companies. For participating brands, including P&G, Pepsi, Garnier, Heinz, Food Network, Philips, AOL and more, SheSpeaks offers an opportunity to spark consumer's interest, obtain candid feedback, grow word-of-mouth awareness and build long-term brand advocates. For more information, visit www.shespeaks.com/corp.
With approximately 34 million unique visitors per month (comScore, March 2010), iVillage is the largest content-driven community for women on the web, where they can find the most meaningful content, real-life conversations and the tools they need for their busy lives. The site focuses on categories that best serve women's needs, including Food, Health, Entertainment, Pregnancy & Parenting and Beauty & Style. Additional businesses and brand extensions within the iVillage Network include iVillage UK, NBC Digital Health Network, Astrology.com and GardenWeb. In addition, iVillage enjoys a strategic partnership with BlogHer, the leading participatory news, entertainment and information network for women online. iVillage Inc., acquired by NBC Universal, Inc. in May 2006, is based in New York City, and is part of the NBC Universal Women & Lifestyle Entertainment Networks Group. Join iVillage's Facebook group at www.facebook.com/ivillage and follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ivillage.
(1) The data is based on a random sample of women from the SheSpeaks panel and was fielded in March 31-April 2, 2010. Respondents were polled about their shopping habits, social media usage and factors influencing brand preference and purchase intent. 1,581 U.S. women participated.