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Media Opinions Are #1 Influence

Consumers are faced with so many sources to help sway their minds as they open their wallets to go shopping, from advertising campaigns, celebrity endorsements and social media reviews, there is no shortage of voices whispering in the ear of consumers.  The Canadian Council of Public Relations Firms (CCPRF) released some new research conducted by Angus Reid/Vision Critical, that looks at impact of influence on consumer’s shopping habits.  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:

  • 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.”