Social media vs. brand websites: which has more influence?
by Keris Lahiff
Does social media really hold power over consumer buyer behaviour? A new report reveals brand-controlled websites still have greater influence when it comes to purchase decisions.
According to the results of KPMG International’s fifth annual Consumers and Convergence survey, while Australians regularly login to the internet to check recommendations and compare prices, compared to other international shoppers, they’re still relying on brand websites themselves to influence buying decisions.
“The appetite of Australians in using social media means that a digital strategy should be a core component of any business in retail, but this shouldn’t be at the expense of a brand’s own online communications with the consumers,” says George Svinos, KPMG head of retail, Asia Pacific.
When making purchasing decisions, consumers surveyed noted they were ‘significantly influenced’ by online information sources, including customer feedback, the brand’s site, and shopping comparison sites. However, social media sites ranked as the lowest in influencing buying decisions.
“Monitoring and managing third-party online information sources will be key to any marketing and sales strategy,” says Svinos. “However, it is also critical that retailers don’t neglect their own spheres of influence, starting with their own pages.”
Interestingly, despite retailers’ fears of online shopping, the report also showed that while Australians do spend a large amount of time on online shopping sites, it is more a form of ‘digital window shopping’ and may not actually translate into online sales.
“Whether this means that people are researching online but then conducting in-store purchases, or that most of this shopping money is going offshore is hard to know. However, it holds implications for retail strategy,” says Svinos. “Australian retailers are now competing on a global platform, and this is causing structural change to the industry. A local retailer now not only needs to consider the competition next door, but the competition online.
“Retailers need to consider and implement strategies that will allow them to interact with the same customer across all sales platforms, ensuring a consistent customer experience regardless of what that consumer is shopping for and whether it’s online or in-store,” he says.
Published on: Monday, August 13, 2012