Company websites, somewhat unsurprisingly, are the primary online destination for information that supports a consumer purchase decision, according to [download page] July 2012 survey results from Incyte, sponsored by Get Sastisfaction. Interestingly, respondents were more likely to say they visit a branded customer community than a social network (27.3% vs. 23.2%) when researching products or seeking customer service.
When asked to name their primary destinations for researching products or seeking customer service via the internet, consumers’ top choices were to visit the company website to make a purchase decision (89.3%), visit a company site for self-serve support (68.8%), contact the company via phone or email for service or support (43.5%), use an internet community dedicated to the product or service (27.3%), and use a social network to make a purchase decision (21.2%).
In fact, company/brand/product information ranked last among 7 reasons identified for using social networks, cited by just 12.8% of respondents.
SocNets Spark Interest, Most Leave
Data from Incyte’s “To Monetize Open Social Networks, Invite Customers to Be More Than Just ‘Friends’,” indicates that when consumers learned of a product, service or brand through a social network, 81.1% reported they would first visit the company website to learn more, and 25.7% would visit a retail store. Just 19% would look at its Facebook page, and 3.1% research it on a mobile phone. This indicates that consumers do not expect to find detailed information about products and services on open social networks, but rather these sites are more prominent at the start of their purchase journeys.
Indeed, according to July 2012 research from Capgemini, among more than 16,000 digital shoppers from 16 countries, slightly fewer engage social networks at the product selection phase of their purchase journey than at the awareness phase, when they first learn about a product (42% vs. 45%).
Consumers Trust One Another To Qualify Content
Meanwhile, data from the Incyte report suggests that respondents may not want brand relationships to be a part of their open social networks, but that they do want company websites to emulate the community-based experiences of open social networks.
Indeed, when making a purchase decision, about half of the respondents prefer company website content that has been vetted as high-quality by other consumers, and 34.7% prefer content that has been provided by a consumer with a good reputation for providing strong content. Sponsor assessment of quality is preferred by only 10.4%, and sponsor assessment of member reputation, by just 5.1%.
About The Data: Incyte’s research team surveyed thousands of US consumers to identify demographic information, their understanding and use of internet technology, and their use of open social networks. In addition, the survey included conjoint analytic techniques to understand their preferences around branded customer communities (e.g., the value propositions that would attract them; how they preferred to learn about these communities; the role of the sponsoring brand, etc.). The results focused on responses from 1,897 qualified consumers who actively use the internet and represent adults from all age, socio-economic, and geographic groups in the US.