Canadian Council of PR Firms' New Study, The Impact of Influence, Uncovers Hierarchy of Influences that Pave Consumers' Path to Purchase
TORONTO, Jan. 24, 2012 /CNW/ - Beyond celebrity endorsements and social media reviews, traditional media opinions still reign supreme in shaping Canadians' purchasing decisions, although there is a significant generational gap, according to new research released today by the Canadian Council of Public Relations Firms (CCPRF). For example, when asked whose opinion of a new product matters more - an editor's or a celebrity's - a full 42 per cent of Canadians reported caring more about an editor's opinion, compared to only four per cent who felt a celebrity's take mattered more.
"Our study delved into the dynamics of influence on Canadians' shopping habits, examining media influences, 'circles of trust', and the impact of social media on our buying process," said Carol Levine, chair of the CCPRF. "What we discovered is that hierarchy of influence is a much more complex force than people may expect."
According to The Impact of Influence poll findings, commissioned by the CCPRF and conducted by Angus Reid/Vision Critical, when Canadians are ready to purchase a product or service today, the hierarchy of go-to research sources plays out as follows:
- Facebook trumps Twitter (21 per cent versus 15 per cent), but blogs trump Facebook (29 per cent versus 21 per cent)
- Company websites, however, trump blogs by more than a 2:1 ratio (68 per cent versus 29 per cent)
- Ultimately, traditional media sources - newspapers (86 per cent), TV (83 per cent), radio (78 per cent), and magazines (73 per cent) — still outrank all of the above as the go-to source for information
But this equation of influence changes dramatically for younger generations:
- Almost four in ten Canadians (38 per cent) aged 18-34 consider blogs to be one of their top research sources when purchasing a product or service, compared to less than half that (16 per cent) of Canadians aged 55 or older
- YouTube mirrored the same pattern, with 27 per cent of Canadians under 34 years of age reporting it as one of their top research sources versus only 15 per cent of the boomer generation (adults over the age of 55)
- Moreover, 18-34 year old Canadians were twice as likely as their older counterparts (aged 35-54) to list social media sources such as Facebook as credible news sources (22 per cent versus 12 per cent). Interestingly, they were also more trusting of company websites as credible news sources than boomer Canadians (23 per cent versus 10 per cent)
"A significant portion of our younger generation sees blogs, YouTube, Facebook and company websites as credible sources of news. This suggests to us, that in their minds - and in contrast to older Canadians - the boundaries of credibility between news, "circle of trust" conversations and marketing are blurring," explained Levine. "In our social media world, where one individual's opinion can stand out against a sea of other information, 'exposure' as we know it is passé; young Canadians are hand-picking who they want to pay attention to, no matter the source."
In addition to generational differences, there is a wide gap between how all Canadians are influenced today, versus how self-identified socially engaged respondents are influenced on what to purchase. For example, The Impact of Influence study found:
- If a blogger posts a positive product review that is contradictory to a traditional news report (newspaper or magazine), average Canadians are more likely to believe traditional media according to the survey (32 per cent versus 13 per cent). In contrast however, self-identified influencers were almost twice as likely to believe bloggers over media (21 per cent versus 13 per cent)
- 41 per cent of self-identified "early adopters" of new products and services, and 41 per cent of avid smart phone app users count on blogs as one of their top research tools, when considering buying a product or service, compared to 29 per cent of the general population
- While one in five Canadians (21 per cent) rely on Facebook to research new product/service information, in advance of a purchase, that figure jumps to 30 per cent among self-identified social media savvy consumers
- 35 per cent of bloggers use YouTube for researching products and services they are considering buying whereas only 21 per cent of average Canadians do the same
- Just over six-in-ten poll respondents (62 per cent) who considered themselves to be the influencers among their social circles, said they would visit their favourite stores online to stay in the know. This figure drops to 52 per cent when looking at the national average
- Interestingly, almost 1 in 3 Canadians (31 per cent) admit conducting research simply as a means to justify their purchase
"The vast differences in media usage and social media credibility among socially engaged Canadians compared to other Canadians have great implications for PR professionals and marketers as a whole," said Levine. "The mind map of the socially engaged Canadians in contrast to their counterparts shows us that the future of public relations lies in strategies that are inherently share-worthy by design."
About The Impact of Influence study
From the context of shopping habits, The Impact of Influence study dissected the opinions and behaviours of socially engaged Canadians including experimenters, early adopters, and social media savvy consumers such as bloggers, and avid smart phone app users to discover who and what influences them. The study then examined how far behind average consumers lag in their thinking patterns.
From September 29th to September 30th 2011, an online survey was conducted among a sample of 1,014 Canadian adults, who are Angus Reid Forum panel members. The margin of error — which measures sampling variability — is +/- 3.08%, 19 times out of 20. The sample was balanced by age, gender and region according to the most recent census data. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.
The Canadian Council of Public Relations Firms (CCPRF) is a national organization of relations consulting firms operating in Canada. The CCPRF is dedicated to promoting the role of public relations in business strategy and organizational performance. The goal of the Council is to promote the professionalism and development of public relations consulting and provide thought leadership in areas that influence industry growth. The CCPRF also aims to advance the business of public relations by building its value as a strategic business tool, by helping member firms manage successful and profitable businesses, by promoting the benefits of a career in public relations consulting and by providing professional development. For more information visit www.ccprf.ca.
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