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    Web Changing How Women Shop Offline: Research

    Recent research on digital shopper marketing from iVillage and SheSpeaks has found that 77 percent of women are more likely to look for a product in a store after reading a review about it on a community forum or message board.

    Recent research on digital shopper marketing from iVillage and SheSpeaks has found that 77 percent of women are more likely to look for a product in a store after reading a review about it on a community forum or message board. The majority — 67 percent — are additionally more apt to make an in-store purchase after reading about it on either onlne resource.

    According to the jointly conducted study, engagement with women via community Web sites, forums and message boards all had a dramatic influence on driving product preference, loyalty and ultimately purchases.

    While social media networks like Facebook and Twitter are important communications channels, with 51 percent of women actively following brands and retailers online, these channels were cited as influential in spurring just 19 percent of purchases, the study showed. Other digital channels, including online coupons (68 percent), online product reviews by consumers (61 percent), e-mails from companies/brands (45 percent) and articles read online (41 percent), have much more of an impact on what women buy.

    “[The] study confirms that the digital resources have redefined shopper marketing by providing a detailed look at how women prepare for, identify, research and ultimately buy the products and services they need,” noted Jodi Kahn, EVP of New York-based iVillage, a wholly owned subsidiary of NBC Universal, Inc. that is the largest content-driven community for women on the Web. “For brand marketers and retailers alike, the insights are clear — finding the right balance of trusted content with community advice is the best way to reach women along the path to purchase.”

    “When it comes to building preference and motivating in-store sales, digital is emerging as a strong contender,” added Aliza Freud, CEO of New York-based SheSpeaks, which creates and operates consumer insights and influencer communities. “If brands can motivate trusted customer recommendations and couple them with a ‘call to action’ such as a coupon, it’s a powerful one-two punch that drives sales and advocacy.”

    Among the study’s other findings:

    —Peer recommendations of products on message boards make women more likely to look for a product in the store (77 percent), more favorably disposed toward the product while shopping (74 percent), more likely to select the brand/product over others (70 percent) and more likely to buy the product in the store (67 percent)

    —Although 51 percent of women are fans or followers of grocery, health/beauty or household products brands and the stores that stock them, consumer reviews on shopping sites are a top influence for 61 percent of respondents. Online articles, in contrast, are a foremost influence for 35 percent of respondents, who said that reading online content (articles) is more influential now than a year ago. Thirty-three percent pointed to blogs as a chief influence. As far as Facebook and Twitter are concerned, only 19 percent said that posts from friends are a main influence, with an even more paltry 11 citing posts from brands

    —When deciding to buy food/beverage, health/beauty and household products, respondents most frequently named online coupons (68 percent), store coupons (66 percent), consumer reviews on shopping sites (61 percent) and online recommendations from friends (59 percent) as top influencers. Sixty percent additionally said that online coupons are more influential on their purchases now than a year ago, while 51 percent chose consumer recommendations on Web sites as more influential

    —Eighty-one percent of women surveyed for the study had visited a superstore Web site in the past month, 70 percent visited a food/beverage brand site and 69 percent visited a health/beauty brand site. They also actively read e-mail newsletters received from companies (61 percent read e-mails from food/beverage brands, 55 percent from HBC brands and 53 percent from superstores)

    —Respondents spend between six and 60 minutes prepping for a shopping trip. The preparation includes performing product research online and offline, hunting for coupons in multiple channels and perusing e-mail newsletters.

    An executive summary of study is available at www.shespeaks.com/digitalshoppers.

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