Before Millennials Go Shopping, They Turn To Facebook [Survey]

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When millennials want to learn more about local small businesses, they turn to Facebook over other social channels, according to a survey released this week by Gannett-owned marketing firm G/O Digital.

It wasn’t even close. Facebook was cited by 62% of those surveyed as the most effective social channel for researching local businesses before visiting in person, compared to 12% for Pinterest and 11% for Twitter.

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G/O Digital based its findings on a very digitally plugged-in group of young adults, gathering 1,000 responses from U.S. residents, 18 to 29 years old, who owned at least one computer and either a smartphone or tablet and expressed interest in buying products and services from local businesses.

Not surprisingly, this group regularly uses its digital devices for research before making shopping decisions. Eighty percent of them said they do their “digital hunting” at least once a week, and 30% of those say they research such decisions several times a day.

Left unreported by the study is how often that activity is on search engines, but Facebook is the clear leader socially.

Other interesting findings from the survey:

  • More than half (58%) of the respondents visit the Facebook page of a local/small business at least once a week and another 59% engage with Facebook advertising from a local/small business at least once a week before buying an item in-store.
  • Forty-one percent cited customer reviews/ratings as the most important factor when engaging with a local/small business on Facebook. In addition, 80% said they are more likely to purchase products or services in-store from a small business if there are positive customer reviews/ratings on the company’s website, mobile site or Facebook page.
  • Restaurants (38%) had the highest reported level of engagement among respondents, with beauty/spa and education/training tying for second at 14%. Car dealerships and real estate agents were the lowest ranking categories at 5%.
  • Local relevance trumps privacy in weighing the legitimacy of Facebook advertising. Twenty-seven percent cited “ads that are targeted based on current location” and 36% cited “ads that are targeted based on your personal interests and past purchases” as influencing them to interact with Facebook ads from a local/small business.

That last bullet point might surprise those who expect privacy shy users to rebel against targeted advertising that hits too close to home. Jeff Fagel, G/O Digital’s CMO, explained in an email to Marketing Land:

In terms of what our research says about user behaviors and interactions on Facebook, it’s all about relevancy. If you offer me $2 off a hot dog at a baseball game, I won’t mind having my mobile viewing experience interrupted by this ad or offer for one simple reason – because it’s solving an immediate, relevant need that I have — feeding my hunger and giving me a discount at the same time.

But if I’m shown a coupon for a feminine hygiene product as I’m walking into my local Walgreens store, you can bet that not only will I be frustrated by this irrelevant and impersonal experience, but I’ll uninstall the retailer’s app.

Download the full study here.

(Stock image via Bloom Design / Shutterstock.com.)

About The Author

Martin Beck was Third Door Media’s Social Media Reporter from March 2014 through December 2015.

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