Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Social Media Are Influencing Consumer Preferences, IDC Retail Insights Says

IDC Retail Insights recently released a new report, which gives an overview of the main opportunities being created by social networks for retailing. This study also analyzes the various social phenomena developing on the Web 2.0, and how these can be used by retailers to gain a competitive advantage.

Social media — with the top 10 social networks now having surpassed 1.3 billion members — are also influencing consumer preferences by shaping their attitudes and behavior.

Therefore, Web 2.0 technologies will play an extremely important role across all retail segments. Social networks, blogs, and price comparison Web sites can all be used to attract and influence customers, to study demand patterns, to improve brand image, and to support customers after their purchases.

IDC Retail Insights highlights the following:

-- The innovative nature of social media can turn multiple account profiles into an opportunity for retailers to capitalize on same-shopper sales growth prospects.

-- Retailers' presence across social media networks needs to be well balanced, allowing consumers to feel in control of their own personal spheres. A friendly, interactive presence on a social network can greatly improve brand image and help the company gather extremely useful, unstructured data about demand trends.

-- The use of mobile social networks has grown significantly, in a process that will most likely bridge the gap between online and physical shopping.

According to IDC Retail Insights, retailers should establish a presence on social networks not only with the direct objective of attracting consumers to their Web sites or stores, but most importantly to gather useful information, in a non-intrusive way, on their current and potential customers. In other words, retailers should learn to listen at customers who are engaged in social communities.

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