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Online Bargain Hunters Get Social

Though email from retailers is still the best way for consumers to learn about discounts and deals online, nearly 30% of shoppers now say they look to links forwarded from friends, peer comments and social sites for the best bargains, according to a survey from Guidance, in association with Synovate, MarketingCharts reports.

When asked what they thought was the best way to find out about bargains and deals on the internet, the majority of the 1,000 respondents surveyed still cited traditional "top-down," retailer-to-consumer channels. Nearly half (45%) said email is the best way to learn about deals, while 16% looked to messages from retailer websites and 10% cited banner ads.

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But "Social actions" are increasingly gaining ground as a source of shopper influence. The second-most-popular way to find out about bargains is from "friends forwarding a link to the product," cited by 16.5% of survey respondents. Nine percent saythey learn about deals from other shoppers' comments on retail sites through product reviews or other feedback mechanisms. And three percent say they learn about deals "from friends via Twitter, Facebook or other social networking site."

Specific demographic findings:

  • The youngest group (age 18-24) of respondents are most likely to find information about bargains from peers, vs. from retailers: 39% chose one of the three "peer"-centric answers (links from friends, another shopper's comments, or friends via social site), compared with 29% of the overall population.
  • Respondents in the Northeast (33%) are nearly 10% more likely than those in the Midwest (24%) to get their info from peers.
  • The two groups most likely to say they got bargain information from "friends forwarding a link" are the youngest and the oldest: 22% of those ages 18-24, and 18% of those 65+.
  • Finding bargains via social sites increases as age decreases. Seven percent of the youngest group say it's the best way to find bargains, while no one above 65 agrees.
  • The youngest respondents rely on email the least. One-third say it's the best way to find deals, compared with 45% of respondents overall.
  • 49% of married respondents choose email as the best source for bargains vs. 40% percent of non-married respondents.
  • People with children (6%) are six times more likely to find out about bargains via a social site than those with no child in the household (1.3%).
  • Women (12.5%) are more likely than men (7%) to choose banner ads as the best bargain source.

"Two years ago, social media wasn't even considered a source of traffic by merchants," said Jon Provisor, Guidance CTO and owner. "The top-down approach - which would include messages from retailers via email, ads or their websites - has been the status quo, and it's what people are used to. But there's a huge opportunity here for retailers to employ a social commerce strategy that gets peers talking to each other about the deals they're finding."

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