According to Hill & Knowlton’s Future of Commerce report, social commerce is considered the future of e-commerce since online shoppers, particularly younger generations, are heavily influenced by social media and Web 2.0 technologies.
The report, which surveyed 600 US adults, found social media is “Word of Mouth 2.0” for younger generations, with youths predominately influenced by social media channels.
Twenty seven per cent of Gen Y said they were influenced by online or community blogs, compared to 19 per cent of Gen X participants and nine per cent of Baby Boomers.
Joshua Reynolds, worldwide technology practice director at Hill & Knowlton (H&K) and co-author of the report, said online retailing was being profoundly impacted by the integration of social media into what historically has been a transactional experience.
Julie Mathis, vice president, consumer technology at H&K agreed. “The most effective way to reach consumers online is via highly-targeted campaigns tailored to engage micro communities that form around common interests.
“One-size-fits-all marketing is not a viable communications approach in today’s PR 2.0 world,” Mathis said.
Respondents said that personal prior experience was also a factor in why they chose to shop on line, with 83 per cent saying it has the greatest impact. Other drivers of online shopping we family members at 48 per cent, friends influenced 44 per cent, and an online offer or ad from the online store itself prompted 43 per cent of people to shop online.
But while social media is major driver of online shopping across the US, the effects of traditional offline media can not be discounted, with 19 per cent of all survey respondents influenced by an article in a newspaper or magazine and 12 per cent by radio or a television program.
An analysis of more than 300 traditional news articles covering the industry’s top e-commerce leaders over 12 months indicated a strong link between companies who talk about the industry and not just themselves and increased brand valuation. For example e-commerce companies that discussed macro environmental topics, such as the evolution of e-commerce, scored highest in ‘brand presence’, perhaps indicating the positive impact of establishing a position and maintaining a strong voice in a changing market.
When asked of the impart of the economy on their shopping habits, around 46 per cent said they shopped less overall, both online and offline, however 50 per cent said they were shopping online more to look for better bargains.
Gen X and Y were more likely than Baby Boomers to shop online for better bargains in a down economy.