Research unveils the impact digital is really having on consumer shopping decisions

It’s no secret digital and social have a huge impact on consumer shopping decisions. But what channels and platforms are making an impact? And in what way? Epsilon analyzed consumer shopping habits and sentiment in Q1 2016 via our self-reported consumer survey, Shoppers Voice®. Key insights emerged that shed light in to how consumers are navigating digital and social on their path to purchase.

According to Epsilon’s findings only 27% of consumers are using Instagram for information on what to buy, compared to 75% of consumers using Facebook for shopping information. The research indicates that consumers are currently turning to social media to get product recommendations and customer reviews from people they know and trust – something they’ve more traditionally leveraged Facebook for rather than the visual-focused platform. This is also in line with sentiment around Pinterest, where 46% of consumers reported they do not use Pinterest for shopping info.  Instagram and Pinterest are ideal aspirational platforms that spark interest but when it comes to purchase intent other platforms such as Facebook play a key role.

“Consumers turn to social media for a variety of reasons and this research helps marketers understand how and why consumers are using different platforms as part of their path-to-purchase today,” shared Tom Edwards, Chief Digital Officer, Agency at Epsilon. “It’s important for marketers to understand this behavior but also realize that consumer behavior is always shifting and platforms like Facebook and Instagram are continually advancing to enable brands to create contextually relevant experiences for their customers.”

For example, earlier this week, Instagram officially announced updated business tools, analytics and more for businesses to further monetize their platform, and to encourage brands to leverage Instagram’s 400 million active users.

“Pinterest and Instagram are highly-visual platforms that give consumers’ inspiration and ideas related to in-home decorating, style trends, travel destinations and more,” continued Tom.“This research shows that when it comes to getting information on actual purchase decisions, consumers are looking for product reviews and customer feedback from those they know and trust, which is something Facebook offers. Instagram and Pinterest play a strong role in influencing purchase decisions, what we’re seeing today is that the influence is higher up the funnel.”

This sentiment rings true when looking at online sites as well, according to the Shoppers Voice® results. 77% of consumers use Amazon for information on what to buy; but 50% of consumers do not use for shopping info. “The product reviews and product recommendations that offers are unparalleled,” shared Tom. “Consumers may use to better understand product quality and customer reviews thanks to the transparency Amazon offers. It doesn’t necessarily mean all consumers end up purchasing on that site but plays a role in online shopping that other sites don’t.”

Other highlights from the report include sentiment and analysis around the upcoming summer travel and holiday shopping seasons:

  • Compared to a year ago, 40% of consumers indicated spending less on vacations and getaways this year. Women are more likely to indicate spending less compared to men (42% of women vs. 34% of men)
  • With the holiday season approaching, 30% of consumers are spending less and 55% are spending the same on gifts this year, compared to last year
  • 35% of consumers are also spending less on entertainment this year, compared to last year