Study: Social Media, Mobile Set to Impact Holidays in Big Way

Social media sites and mobile advertising appear to be affecting consumer purchase decisions at an increasing rate as the holidays near. A study conducted by Deloitte from Sept. 24 through Oct. 2 on 10,878 consumers found that 17 percent planned to use social media sites to shop for gifts during the next several weeks, according to the research firm.

Of those who answered in that fashion, 60 percent are planning to use the sites to hunt down discounts, coupons, and bargains. Fifty-two percent of that same pool said they would use social media to check gift wish lists of friends and families.

Not surprisingly, social media shoppers are a young crowd. Fifty-two percent of those who said they will likely use social media for holidays purchasing were between 18 and 29 years of age. Thirty-three percent were between 30 and 44, while 12 percent were 45-to-60-year-olds.

Deloitte also found mobile phones to be on the rise, as 19 percent of those asked plan to use them for gift shopping. Those consumers expect to use their handsets for searching store locations (55 percent), researching prices (45 percent), locating product information (40 percent), unearthing discounts and coupons (32 percent), and perusing reviews (31 percent). Twenty-five percent said that they will likely make a holiday purchase with their phone.

The 2009 study also found the Internet in general still growing as a shopping research tool. For example, 22 percent said they will primarily shop online this holiday season, and 44 percent anticipate using a coupon they found on the Web. One-fourth of those surveyed stated they will read online reviews and recommendations to help them decide what gift items to buy. And 78 percent said that they have purchased a product in a retailer’s store this year after researching it on that brand’s site or catalog.

Deloitte’s study is not the only recent research that shows these trends. On Monday, Razorfish released a report finding that among those who have friended a brand on MySpace or Facebook, one-third did it mainly to gain access to exclusive deals and discounts. The number was even higher — 44 percent — for people who follow a brand on Twitter.

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