Social media has become so influential in the past year to consumers as they shop that, according to a new survey, it is as relied upon as much as both word-of-mouth and store advertising to provide holiday gift ideas and inspiration among all ages. The survey, released today by ConsumerSearch.com, part of The About Group, examines how people plan to shop this holiday season, including what elements of social media inspire consumers.
Sixty-five percent of respondents said they rely on word-of-mouth, or brainstorm with friends on gifts for loved ones, while others (64 percent) look to stores and manufacturers to provide inspiration through advertisements, emails and store web sites. Similarly, 62 percent of respondents said they use social media sources, including user reviews, online wish lists, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.
ConsumerSearch.com, an award-winning web site that helps consumers make informed purchasing decisions, conducted the survey of members of Research Now's Consumer Panel Oct. 8-12, 2012. More than 1,035 adults across the country who have shopped for gifts or intend to shop for gifts this holiday were polled. Highlights of the survey include:
Reading the Reviews: Consulted by 41 percent of adults in the U.S. who go online, reviews are by far one of the most popular social sources of ideas and inspiration for gifts.
Online v. In-Store: As the holiday shopping season nears, the largest group of respondents (37 percent) said they tend to research and shop both online and offline equally. Twenty-four percent said both researching and shopping online is more typical for them, edging out the 17 percent who prefer to research and shop in stores.
Spending Habits and Cost: Sixty percent of respondents say they'll spend about the same amount on gifts this year, compared to 2011. Yet, the remaining 40 percent were evenly divided between those who plan to spend more than they did last year, and those who plan to spend less. Consumers plan to spend nearly $500, on average, for holiday gifts. In addition, 40 percent anticipate spending $500 or more and 12 percent will spend $1,000 or more.
"Through our analysis of shoppers' habits and reviews throughout the years, we've seen an uptick in how people are using social media to get information on products and services from their peers and retailers," said Carey Rossi, editor-in-chief of ConsumerSearch.com. "This survey shows us just how much social media is influencing shoppers and changing their habits. Retailers have begun using social media more to reach shoppers with deals and information and we can expect this trend become even more popular over the next few years."
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