S. Radoff Associates, a NY-based research company, just released a report about the impact of word of mouth on large-ticket item purchases. The results remove any shadow of doubt on word of mouth’s impact on tangible business results. And we understand that social media drives sales for considerable investments in cars and technology, not just CPG products.
The study delves into large purchases made in the past year and the information sources that shaped brand choices. The results show that one-half of consumers say word of mouth was a key influencer for car (50 percent), technology and electronics (49 percent) product choices they made in the past year.
We know from Keller Fay Group that much of word of mouth actually takes place offline. Interestingly, these two categories are pretty balanced in terms of their source of buzz. In fact, online and offline word of mouth were just as likely (29 percent, respectively) to influence technology and consumer electronics purchases.
Online reviews are at the source of online buzz. Consumers say online reviews influenced nearly one-quarter of technology and electronics purchases (24 percent) and 17 percent of car purchases made last year.
The most counterintuitive factoid from the study is that consumers are four times more likely to be influenced by social media than paid media for their car purchases made in the past year (21 percent vs. 5 percent). Social media has been more influential than paid media for technology purchases as well (26 percent vs. 7 percent).
Considering the typical budget spending on advertising vs. social media, these numbers signal the need to seek efficiencies in our integrated marketing plans for 2011 and beyond. Marketers planning for automotive and consumer electronics/ technology brands can shift dollars from traditional advertising budgets to social media and focus on elevating consumer opinions and customer experience.