Social Media Have Growing Role in Influencing 
Consumer Preferences: IDC R

Social Media Have Growing Role in Influencing 
Consumer Preferences: IDC R

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Milan, Italy—IDC Retail Insights recently released Business Strategy: Social Commerce Opportunities, Strategies, and Risks for Retailers Globally, which examines key opportunities created by social networks for retailing. The study also analyzes the social phenomena developing on Web 2.0 and how they can be used by retailers to gain a competitive advantage.

“It is increasingly on social media that retail brand awareness is established and brand image is built,” said Ivano Ortis, research director, IDC Retail Insights. “Social networks, blogs, price comparison websites and the likes can all be used by retailers of all kinds and sizes to attract and influence customers, to study demand patterns, to improve brand reputation, and finally, to provide customer support. Looking ahead, IDC Retail Insights sees an open social network built on a personalized widget portal, which will be available to each consumer individually, independent of each retailer—and yet supported by all of them—accessible from everywhere via a wide array of technologies.”

Social media—with the top 10 social networks now having more than 1.3 billion members—are also influencing consumer preferences by shaping their attitudes and behavior, notes IDC. Because on this, the research firm believes that “Web 2.0 technologies will play an extremely important role across all retail segments. Social networks, blogs and price comparison websites can all be used to attract and influence customers, to study demand patterns, to improve brand image and to support customers after their purchases.” 

Based on this study, IDC Retail Insights offers retailers the following advice and findings:

• 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 or chat room 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.

The research firm further believes, “Retailers should establish a presence on social networks not only with the direct objective of attracting consumers to their websites or stores, but most importantly to gather useful information, in a nonintrusive way, on their current and potential customers. In other words, retailers should learn to listen to customers who are engaged in social communities.”

The IDC Retail Insights study, Business Strategy: Social Commerce Opportunities, Strategies, and Risks for Retailers Globally, (#GRRS01S, Jan. 2010), by Ivano Ortis and Alessandro Casoli, is not limited to traditional social networks such as Facebook but also explores the following social media applications in the context of commerce: social shopping networks, widgets, blogs, media-sharing websites, microblogs and social bookmarking. http://www.idc-ri.com

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