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Search Dominates Social Networking For Product Discovery, Study Says

Search engines are the number one way that consumers find out about new products, according to a new study commissioned by commerce software developer ATG. The survey was conducted online and polled 1,002 U.S. adult consumers in July 2010.

One question asked respondents to list up to five ways they discover new products. 53% of respondents across all age groups said they discover products through search engines. Only 8% said they discover new online products via “links or information on social networking sites.”


In the survey, men were more likely to rely on search engines to discover new products (59% compared to 47% of women). And younger adults were somewhat less likely to discover products through search engines. 47% in the 18-34 age group said search engines, compared to 55% in the 35-54 group, and 52% in the 55 and older segment.

But if social networking isn’t a primary driver overall of product awareness, there are plenty of surveys that have shown its importance for product and customer support. And the ATG study emphasizes that both social and mobile platforms are increasingly important to younger consumers. Consider these stats:

  • About 29% of respondents aged 18-34 said they have discovered a product or service through a social network. That figure is lower for older adults.
  • 37% of consumers aged 18-34 said it was “important” or “very important” that merchants provide an opportunity to interact through social networks.
  • 50% of the 18-34 group are using Facebook to “like” merchants, interact with other consumers and friends about products, post images and reviews, seek customer service, look for coupons, and post messages to a merchant’s fan page.
  • About 41% of consumers aged 18-34 are using their mobile device to complete purchases of products and services with varying frequencies.
  • 46% of 18-34 year-olds are using their mobile devices to receive text notifications from merchants, search for coupons, browse through merchants’ collections, and seek ratings and reviews.

You can request a copy of the study on ATG’s website.

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