How Do Consumers Find Out About New Products and Brands?

July 30, 2013

Ipsos-How-Consumers-Find-Out-About-New-Products-Brands-July2013How are Americans introduced to new products and brands? Most often through TV ads, according to new survey results from Ipsos Open Thinking Exchange. After TV ads, Americans say they’re most likely to learn about new products and brands from friends and family (54%) and on the internet (also at 54%). The results reveal some interesting demographic differences within the US, as well as some intriguing variations between US responses and ones from the rest of the world. [Editor’s update: Some readers have noted the omission of newspapers and radio as discovery sources in the study, a curious omission that should have been noted in this article when it was first published.]

Focusing on US respondents first, the study shows that after the top tier of brand and product discovery sources mentioned above, at least 1 in every 5 consumers also turns to magazine ads (31%), social networking sites (25%), entertainment (TV shows/movies; 22%) and direct mail (21%).

Predictably, the results differ significantly when sorting by age bracket. In the 18-34 group, the internet is the primary source of discovery (59%), with TV falling to third (48%), also behind friends and family (56%). Among older age groups (35-49) and (50-64), TV returns to the top, with its influence rising alongside age. That’s an interesting finding, as previous research has suggested that TV ads are more influential among younger age groups, at least for purchases.

Nevertheless, at least for new product discovery, TV and the internet appear to move in opposite directions in terms of age patterns. The influence of retail stores and direct mail also increases alongside age, while the opposite is true for social networking sites and blogs.

There are also some notable gender gaps within the US, with women in general appearing to be more likely than men to rely on most of the sources identified. Some of the bigger discrepancies related to:

  • Friends and family (a source for 63% of US women versus 46% of men);
  • Retail stores (55% of women vs. 45% of men);
  • Magazine ads (38% of women vs. 25% of men);
  • Social networking sites (36% of women vs. 15% of men);
  • Email newsletters (22% of women vs. 15% of men);
  • Magazine editorials (18% of women vs. 9% of men); and
  • Blogs (16% of women vs. 9% of men).

Interestingly, there is less of a gender gap when it comes to the likelihood of finding out about new products and brands through TV ads, although TV commercials rank second to friends and family among women while occupying the top position among men.

In other demographic differences, the survey reveals that the influence of friends and family, the internet, email newsletters, and magazine editorials increases with household income levels, while TV advertising is a bigger source of new product and brand discovery for married than single respondents, as are retail stores and magazine ads.

Reliance on friends and family appears to increase alongside education level, with blogs and magazine editorials following suit. Interestingly, senior executives and decision-makers are more likely to discover new products and brands through TV ads than their respondents not in those positions (63% vs. 58%), and the former are also more likely to discover new products and brands from entertainment, such as TV shows and movies (34% vs. 20%).

Internet Less of a Source for Americans

It’s a different story when looking at the 24-country average. On a global level, the internet is the top medium for new product and brand discovery, cited by 68% of respondents, a fairly marked difference from the 54% of US respondents who discover new brands on the internet.

TV ads take the second spot among global respondents, but they are still more likely to be a source of new product discovery by the average global consumer (61%) than by the average American (58%).

Other interesting gaps between US responses and the overall average include:

  • Americans being 16% more likely to find out about new brands and products in retail stores (50% vs. 43%);
  • Americans being more than 30% less likely to find out about them through social networking sites (25% vs. 36%); and
  • Americans being 31% less likely to discover new products and brands through email newsletters (18% vs. 26%).

Which countries’ citizens are most likely to find out about new brands and products from TV ads? Those would be respondents in: Turkey (78%); Argentina (75%); Mexico (75%); and India (74%). Meanwhile, consumers in Turkey (91%), Indonesia (84%), Brazil (80%), and China (80%) are the most likely to discover new products and brands through the internet.

About the Data: The data is derived from the Global @dvisor Wave 43 (G@43), an Ipsos survey conducted between March 5th and 19th, 2013.

The survey instrument is conducted monthly in 24 countries around the world via the Ipsos Online Panel system. The countries reporting herein are Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Great Britain, Germany, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United States of America.

For the results of the survey presented herein, an international sample of 18,147 adults aged 18-64 in the US and Canada, and age 16-64 in all other countries, were interviewed. Approximately 1000+ individuals participated on a country by country basis via the Ipsos Online Panel with the exception of Argentina, Belgium, Hungary, Indonesia, Mexico, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden and Turkey, where each have a sample approximately 500+.

Weighting was then employed to balance demographics and ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the adult population according to the most recent country Census data, and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe.

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