Marketing to Women: Is Social or Search More Important?

March 14, 2011 § 2 Comments

We all know that social media is becoming more important in the shopping process, but exactly what part of the process does it provide to the online shopper?  I ran across a very interesting study, “The Virtuous Circle: the Role of Search and Social Media in the Purchase Pathway” by comScore and Group M Search, that sheds some light on the current process and how it affects The Lipstick Economy.

It seems that in nearly 60% of all consumer journeys that end in purchase, the starting point is search.  Google and Bing are the most used search engines.  Some 24% of shoppers went straight to a company website, and just 18% started with social media.

So, does that mean that social is not important?  No, because of those who went to search engines first, 40% then turned to social media to help make their purchase decision.  Social media has a different role than search.  Search is valued for the depth of information provided, a price shopper tool, and a source for determining where to buy an item.

Social media is valued for awareness and information on new brands and products available.  Some 30% in the study said they used social media as a way to eliminate brands from consideration.

Of the 46% of those who began with social media, they then turned to search, probably seeking other brands or pricing options.

These findings seem to point to the new “shopping ecosystem”  that involves search, websites, consumer reviews, blogs and social all in one seamless group – each providing a special role in shopping behavior.  In fact, the study points to user reviews and category blogs as the two most important subsets of social media.  Most any women you talk to has their own favorite blogs and shopping sites that they invite into their email, Facebook and Twitter.

All marketers want the silver bullet – the one thing that will make their brand desired and purchased.  But consumers are not using one source of information – they are combining all of the preferred touchpoints to make an informed purchase decision.

A scenario described by Mark Tamis in The Social Customer blog illustrates this brave new world of social and takes it even further by showing the interplay provided by CRM systems in the shopping process.  He tells of a young woman who is invited to a party and how she makes her decision on a new outfit for the party.  
The person in charge is the customer and marketers have to, more than ever, understand the process by which the customer wants to get the job done.

Remember, marketers, women are armed with a computer in their pocketbook and that smartphone is doing double-time as our shopping helper.  So help them do their job!

 

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§ 2 Responses to Marketing to Women: Is Social or Search More Important?

  • I’m of the “search first, then social” mentality. There is none more important in my business world than Google. Sometimes I don’t migrate on to Social, but many times I do. Google, however, is a mainstay! Regardless, you’re correct –marketers need to recognize the role both play in a woman’s purchase decisions. Great post!

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