In the “2012 Social and Mobile Commerce Study,” a joint research project by Shop.org, comScore and The Partnering Group, the visually-appealing Pinterest has become a big player in the retail arena, with online U.S. consumers reporting that they already follow an average of 9.3 retail companies on the site, compared to the average 6.9 retailers they follow on Facebook and the 8.5 retailers they track via Twitter.
Overall, almost two out of five (38%) online consumers follow retailers through one or more social networking sites.
“Retailers have done a commendable job embracing social media, engaging their customers where it makes sense while keeping their brand relevant, interesting, appealing and exciting on each platform,” said Vicki Cantrell, executive director at Shop.org. “Specifically, Pinterest has given retailers another channel to ‘listen’ to and interact with both existing and new customers, telling an ongoing visual story through images of their products and their brand ‘spirit’–a story that customers can then tell again to their friends and family members.”
YouTube: Another Opportunity
Earlier this year, Pinterest was named the third most popular social media website behind Facebook and Twitter and ahead of LinkedIn. What’s more, nearly two-thirds of Pinterest users are women, retailers’ chief target.
The study found that retailers are actively evaluating where they customers want them to be. Company blogs, YouTube and Facebook command the majority of consumers’ social activity. In particular, seven in 10 (70%) of those who follow a retailer’s blog click through to the website. YouTube is also an effective tool—the study found more than two-thirds (68%) of consumers use YouTube to browse and research a retail company.
When it comes to what spurs consumers to follow retailers on social media platforms, the study found that searching for “good deals” is still the leading reason, but that deals and promotions have lost a little bit of their luster.
This year, 51% say they follow a retailer to get information on deals and coupons, down from 58% who said so last year. About 43% say they are looking for product information and 36% want to post/read comments about merchandise or services.
Additionally, three in 10 consumers who follow retailers via social media say they are actively looking for information about events (34%), current trends and ideas (31%), or photos and videos (30%), such as “how-to’s” and styling ideas, as well as expert opinions (27%).
Smartphones for ‘Social Shopping’
Smartphone-toting Americans seem to have no qualms about sharing their location with friends and family members through social media channels, and the study finds they are also interested in sharing their location with retailers. One-third of those who own smartphones say they have shared their location with retailers. Location-based services, such as Groupon Now!, FourSquare and Facebook have effectively helped retailers instantly reach new and existing customers by targeting special offers, discounts and coupons to their mobile devices once they’ve “checked-in.”
“While check-in and store location functionality are already gaining popularity, retailers have just begun to scratch the surface of using location data to better serve their customers. In-store shopping maps and customized shopping lists are a few of the emerging mobile technologies that promise to shape consumers’ future behavior,” said Jennifer Vlahavas, senior director at comScore Inc.
Interestingly, men are more likely than women to share their location with a retailer (40% vs. 25% respectively), and nearly half (46%) of those aged 18 to 34 say they have shared their location, compared to just two in 10 (22%) of those aged 35 to 54, the study found.
Tablet computers and smartphones have become an integral part of a consumer’s shopping experience—but in different ways. The survey found those with smartphones are most likely to use their device for social reasons, such as contacting friends and family about products they see and searching for items nearby, while tablets are more likely to be used to make purchases and comparison shop.
Specifically, nearly four in 10 (37%) smartphone owners who shop online say they use their smartphone to take pictures of products and more than one-third (34%) said they send the pictures of the products they see to friends. U.S. online consumers surveyed also say they text/call friends/family about specific products while shopping (33%).
About the Survey
The 2012 “Social Commerce Study” provides a look into the behaviors and attitudes of consumers regarding social media. The study covers consumer shopping activity and engagement via Facebook, Twitter, customer reviews on websites, group-buying sites and location-based social platforms. 1,507 online U.S. consumers participated in the survey which was conducted in March 2012 by comScore, Inc. The survey participants were selected to ensure that results were representative of the demographics of the U.S. online adult consumer. Results were weighted to accurately reflect U.S. demographics.