Editor’s note: Rebecca Brooks is founder and CEO of full-service market research consultancy Alter Agents. She is co-author of the shopper marketing book, “Influencing Shopper Decisions.” 

While shopping behaviors have been steadily transforming for decades, the past two years sped up the rate of change exponentially. Not only has online shopping become the norm, but expectations have shifted surrounding things like customer service, product offerings, convenience and speed. But these aren’t the only shifts taking place in the shopper landscape – they are also researching every purchase, putting in the time to consult a wide number of sources before pulling out their pocketbooks. 

When we set out to find just how much the “typical” purchase journey had changed, we surveyed 6,000 U.S. consumers who had recently made a purchase in one of six product categories. Turns out, the journey varies wildly by category (no surprise there), but we wanted to know more. We asked people where they were going for their information, and just how influential each source was when it came down to buying a product. 

One source in which we took particular interest was the use of social media by shoppers. The global social media audience tops over 4 billion users. We asked about their habits, how they use social media during the shopping process and which platforms they were using the most. 

In our report, Shoppers and Social Media (registration required), we share some of the key findings. We found that: 

In addition, social media shoppers tended to consider their purchases more carefully and not impulse shop and were more likely to be eco-conscious when making purchases. On the other hand, these shoppers are spenders, not savers. Social platforms are critical in reaching these audiences to capture them, and their dollars, during the shopping experience. 

Social media platforms serve a wide range of purp...