Corporate Eye

How Consumers Use Social Media in Purchase Decisions

online searchMost brand marketers still invest more of their marketing budgets in traditional marketing activities than they do on social media marketing activities. Even digital marketing budgets are skewed more heavily towards traditional online marketing activities than they are towards social media marketing activities. According to new research from Radius Global Market Research, this is a good strategy.

The study found that consumers are much more likely to get information and share information via traditional online channels than social media channels. In fact, traditional online channels were used 50% of the time or more depending on the category of the product or service being researched for possible purchase.

Don’t count social media out though. The study found that social media influences anywhere from 9% to 39% of purchase decisions depending on the category of the product or service being researched.

As you might expect, big ticket purchases and emotional purchases are the ones that drive consumers to seek out online information before they make their purchase decisions. Consumers seek out online information most frequently for:

  1. Travel purchases = 76%
  2. Electronics purchases = 73%
  3. Automobile purchases = 67%
  4. Baby care equipment purchases = 66%
  5. Household appliances purchases = 64%

Social networking sites were consulted most often for:

  1. Baby care equipment purchases (39%)
  2. Electronics purchases = 35%
  3. Automobile purchases = 28%
  4. Toys and games purchases = 25%
  5. Household appliances purchases = 23%

Also as you might expect, the survey found that consumers of all products and services across all categories are more likely to search for information online before they make a purchase than they are to share information about their purchase or their experience with the product or service after they’ve purchased it.

However, Radius Global Market Research found two categories where consumers are more likely to seek out information and share information after they’ve made a purchase than they are to gather information before they make the purchase — personal care and makeup products. Also, people who purchase smartphones are nearly as likely to share and search for information after they make their purchase as they are to seek information online before or during the purchase process.

The Radius Global Market Research study results are based on a survey of a sample of its internet panel of consumers from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Europe, Australia, and Scandinavia.

What do you think? Any surprises in this data that will affect your brand marketing spending?

Image: Carl Dwyer

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.