As channel options continue to proliferate, marketers need to remain vigilant, carefully gauging responses and reevaluating which ones are most effective –and who, if anyone, can now influence a consumer’s path to purchase.
For example, a recent study from the Canadian Council of Public Relations Firms (CCPRF) found that beyond celebrity endorsements and social media reviews, traditional media opinions still reign supreme in shaping Canadians’ purchasing decisions, although there is a significant generational gap emerging.
The study, entitled The Impact of Influence, Uncovers Hierarchy of Influences that Pave Consumers’ Path to Purchase, looked at what marketing methods people felt played the greatest roles in helping them decide on what and what not to buy. After polling more than one thousand Canadian adults, the CCPRF concluded that:
- Traditional media marketing methods still wield far more influence over social media marketing. Between 70 and 90 percent of respondents in all age groups listed newspapers, television, radio and magazines as the most influential sources of information on what products or services to buy.
- In the same vein, if a blog review of a product or service contradicted a review in a newspaper or magazine, or on a radio or television news report, those surveyed were much more likely to believe the media more than the blogger (32 versus 13 percent).
- When it comes to the most trustworthy online sources, blogs came out on top at 29 percent, followed by Facebook at 21 percent and Twitter at 15 percent.
- And speaking of blogs, 38 percent of those surveyed in the 18 to 34 year-old age range admitted they consulted blog reviews when researching a product or service. More than one-quarter (27 percent) in that age group also indicated they viewed YouTube videos as part of their research.
- Moreover, the respondents younger than age 35 were nearly twice as likely to find Facebook recommendations more credible than those in the 35 to 54 age group. They were also more than twice as likely to trust company websites, compares to their boomer counterparts.
- Not surprisingly, those surveyed who reported being early adopters of new technology also showed a greater inclination to incorporate online resources when researching a particular product (41 percent compared to 29 percent of the rest of the population).
These results tell me that it is no longer sufficient for marketers to segment their audience and customize their content. They must also consider how each segment reacts to different channels, and how today’s channels can be integrated to present a cohesive, consistent brand message.
“A significant portion of our younger generation sees blogs, YouTube, Facebook and company websites as credible sources of news. This suggests to us, that in their minds – and in contrast to older Canadians – the boundaries of credibility between news, ‘circle of trust’ conversations and marketing are blurring,” explained CCPRF chair Carol Levine. “In our social media world, where one individual’s opinion can stand out against a sea of other information, ‘exposure’ as we know it is passé; young Canadians are hand-picking who they want to pay attention to, no matter the source.”