Social Networking May Help Retailers in Downturn

May 1, 2009

This article is included in these additional categories:

Analytics, Automated & MarTech | CPG & FMCG | Financial Services | Retail & E-Commerce

Though US adults are pessimistic about the economy and are cutting back on many big-ticket purchases, economically-driven changes in consumer behavior may hold potential bright spots for retailers engaging in social networking, according to (pdf) a recent survey from The University of Maryland School of Business and Rockbridge Associates, Inc.

As reported by Retailer Daily, the study, “Changing Consumer Priorities in Tough Times,”? measures consumer priorities in the current economic climate. It indicates that 72% of respondents think the US is in a recession and 27% believe the US. is currently in a depression. Only 1% of respondents think the economy is stable, while no respondents think the economy is in an expansion or in prosperity.

This week’s figures showing the US GDP (gross domestic product) shrank 6.1% in Q1 2009 also confirm respondent fears about the economy’s health, Retailer Daily said.

Cutting Back Expenses

As a result of economic fears, 73% of respondents are cutting back on expenses, the research said. When asked tospecify how they are cutting back expenses, 59% said they are postponing purchases of high-end electronic devices such as HDTVs and laptops, and 56% said they are postponing furniture purchases. Another 55% said they are postponing household improvements. On the other hand, 46% said they are making their home more energy-efficient.


Social Networking May Hold Promise

In the area of social networking, 33% of respondents say they are communicating with family and friends through social networking more this than last year; and 53% say they are communicating the same amount. Findings suggest that retailers may be able to capitalize on this trend and investigate the potential this relatively new channel offers to reach consumers with declining interest in traveling to stores or making purchases.

As an example, Retailer Daily reports that retailer – including Netflix, Papa John’s, Pizza Hut and Kmart – have recently used social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter for promotional campaigns.

About the research: The survey of 529 U.S. adults ages 18+ was conducted online in March 2009. The sample was derived from an online research panel by e-Rewards, and the results are weighted to be representative of the adult population in the US.

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