Social Media losing impact in retail, says Capgemini

13 October 2014

The role of social media in the customer journey has declined compared to two years ago, concludes Capgemini in its research into the habits of consumers. In addition, social media is found less important than other shopping channels in the purchase and payment stage, a stage wherein the physical store is still found the most important.

Digital Shopper Relevancy
Since 2002, consulting firm Capgemini researches the shopping habits of over 50.000 consumers worldwide, and gathers insights in the changing patterns of purchasing behaviour as part of its ‘Consumer Relevancy’ and ‘Future Consumer’ research program. For its most recent research, entitled ‘Digital Shopper Relevancy Report 2014’, Capgemini hired ORC International, a global research firm, to survey the habits and preferences of more than 18,000 digital shoppers worldwide. 

Based on the research, Capgemini concludes that consumers are attributing less importance to social media as part of their customer journey compared to two years ago. Looking at the different stages of the customer journey, it can be said that the role of social media declined at all stages of the shopping experience in all sectors surveyed, including at the two most relevant stages for social media: ‘awareness’ and ‘choice’. 

Change in Importance of Social Media

According to the respondents, the experience in retail stores is more important in their shopping sprees than using social media, for instance by following retailers, finding out about new products through blogs, and participating in online retail customer communities. Social media is also considered less important than the internet, email, smartphone apps, or the use of technologies in-store. “Despite the surge in Facebook’s ad revenues and marketing innovations like Twitter’s new ‘Buy’ button, there is definitely a question mark over where and how ‘social’ fits into the shopper journey. Our report suggests that retailers still have work to do at every stage of the purchasing journey in order to make social media play a useful, valuable role in buying a product or service,” comments  Kees Jacobs, Global Digital Proposition Lead, Capgemini Digital Customer Experience, on the findings.

Relevance of Different Shopping Channels

Looking at the different channels in the purchase and payment stage of a product, the traditional store experience is still voted the most important with 72% rating this experience as ‘extremely important’ or ‘important’. The physical store is followed by internet shopping, voted as ‘extremely important’ by 36% and ‘important’ by 31%, adding up to 67%. The gap between retail stores and online shopping will, however, become smaller in the future, as 51% of the respondents indicated their intend to spend more money online. Social media, rated ‘(extremely) important’ by only 37%, finds itself at the bottom of the list, just above call centres.

Comparing high growth markets with mature markets, the researchers conclude that high growth markets, such as Brazil, Mexico, India and China, place more importance on digital technologies and hence on social media. This represents, according to the consultants, opportunities for brands present in, or wanting to expand into, these markets.


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