It’s a Whole New Ball Game
By: Greg Guse, Paulsen Marketing
Guess who’s talking to your prospective customers.
That’s right. Your current customers.
How influential are they?
We just completed and published a three-month study that examines how social media communities, peer reviews and brand-vocates are changing the way consumers research and make purchasing decisions. We discovered there is a continuous feedback loop between current customers and prospective customers, which has forever changed the traditional sales process.
I trust you agree these changes have dramatically impacted marketers, and those of us who provide counsel, to most effectively reach a target audience with our advertising.
This study included 13 in-depth personal interviews and 341 completed online surveys of rural lifestylers, consumers living in C and D counties throughout the U.S. who live in the country, but do not make their primary living from crops or livestock produced on their land. We found that rural residents are adopting social media at about the same rate as general consumers.
Some interesting statistics from our study show just how engaged today’s consumers are with online activities:
• 5 out of 6 read blogs consistently
• 6 out of 10 participate in online forums or other forms of social media
• More than 50% ask for product advice online
• 75% shop for products and purchase online
• Of those who shop online, 99% read product reviews and 98% write product reviews
• 59% of consumers say online consumer reviews and ratings influence their buying decisions more than any other type of online advertising
• 54% have decided TO MAKE A PURCHASE based on an online review
• 58% DID NOT BUY A PRODUCT based on an online review
Takeaways from the study include a strong pattern of influence happening online among complete strangers with a common interest. These micro-influencers are becoming more and more important to the decision-making process, even at the point-of-purchase.
In-store interactions have become a more powerful touch point as consumers are armed with mobile devices to scan QR codes and bar codes, as well as poll Facebook. A quote from one interview states, “I don’t trust the salespeople. I don’t trust the reviews on the website. So you tend to text friends or Facebook your friends.”
Clearly it’s a whole new ball game as consumer reviews, social media and other online activities drastically alter the way consumers reach purchasing decisions. As marketers, our challenge is to find the right marketing mix and messaging to reach consumers in this era where the purchasing process includes powerful new influences.
To learn more about the results of this study, I invite you to view our most recent thought paper, “Rural Lifestylers are Changing the Way They Research and Buy Products,” at www.paulsenmarketing.com/agri-thoughts. It includes video segments from the consumer interviews that are very revealing and insightful.