Retailers poised for most social Christmas yet

NEW YORK, N.Y. — Social media will influence how people plan to shop this holiday season nearly as much as word-of-mouth and store advertisements, according to a survey conducted by ConsumerSearch.com, part of the About Group.

The growing influence of social media has been evident for years, but the ConsumerSearch.com findings show that social media is poised to overtake other conventional forms of marketing when it comes to influencing shopper behavior. That’s potentially good news for retailers who stand to benefit indirectly from the exposure they receive from customers who showcase products to their networks of friends and contacts on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest.

The survey found that 62% of respondents use social media sources, including user reviews, online wish lists, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter, to get inspiration for holiday gift ideas. The result nearly matches the percentage of respondents who rely on word-of-mouth or brainstorm with friends, 65%, and the percentage who rely on stores’ and manufacturers’ advertisements, emails and store websites, 64%.

ConsumerSearch.com conducted the survey of members of Research Now's Consumer Panel from Oct. 8–12. It polled more than 1,035 adults across the country who have shopped for gifts or intend to shop for gifts this holiday.

"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."

The 62% of respondents who rely on social media sites and online user reviews breaks down as follows: 41% of adults in the United States who go online read user reviews to get ideas for gifts; 37% of respondents research and shop on and offline equally; and 24% answered that they typically research and shop online, compared with the 17% who still prefer to research and shop in brick-and-mortar stores.