Tweets, likes and pins are turning into dollar signs for retailers. New research has found that social media has sparked a change not only in the way people make purchase decisions, but also in how they feel about brands and companies.
In particular, researchers have found that one in three shoppers say that social media has introduced them to a brand or helped to change an already existing opinion of a brand. Researchers also revealed that social media has changed shoppers' habits.
"One of the most important insights we generated is that consumers today are always on—being exposed to brands, and even engaging with them, throughout the course of their normal activities," said Todd Powers , executive vice president of the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF), an organization that aims to improve the practice of advertising, marketing and media research.
The research, titled "Digital & Social Media in the Purchase Decision Process," also revealed that shoppers are saying that social media has become an important part of the buying process. To that end, 22 percent of respondents say that social media is important in their final purchase decision.
Additionally, shoppers say that social media has changed the way that they feel after shopping. In particular, shoppers say that they feel joy after making a purchase and sharing it online.
"This state of constant interaction with brands through digital and social media has come to challenge the purchase funnel, as we have traditionally understood it," said Powers, the lead researcher of the study. "This also challenges the notion that consumers are aware of the influences on their purchase decisions, and that they always make decisions consciously."
The research was based on the responses of 2,000 shoppers. It was conducted by the ARF over five months with the help of GM, Google, Kraft, The Fuqua School of Business at Duke University, Motorola, Firefly/ Millward Brown, comScore, Converseon, Communispace and advertising agency Y&R.