Is social media driving tech-accessory purchases? The answer, at this point, seems to be “yes and no,” said Chris Ely, manager of industry analysis for the Consumer Electronics Association, who outlined results of a study during the session “Tech Accessories in the New Social Paradigm” at the 2012 International CES in Las Vegas.
CEA conducted a qualitative study of 1,000 U.S. adults who identified themselves as social media users and, on average, spend 32 hours a week on the Internet, of which 8.8 hours are spent on social media sites. The goal of the study was to understand consumers’ attitudes toward social media in general and how they leverage the platform to buy consumer electronics accessories, which is on pace as a category to reach a value of over $9.2 billion this year.
Not surprisingly, Facebook by far remains the most frequently used social media platform, with nearly 8 in 10 ranking it tops for use. This finding showcases how social media is still driven by the desire to communicate with friends, Ely said, noting only 26% of those surveyed said they make their comments open to the public.
People are also using social media, albeit to a lesser degree, to find deals. This, according to Ely, is where businesses have an opportunity to resonate with the consumer. “Promotions and discounts drive people to get involved in social media,” he said. “The fact that people are looking for more deals, can help drive retailer sales,” he said. Ely noted that 55% of consumers are more likely to friend or like a company’s page if there are special promotions offered. Contests also prompt 42% of people to like a page.
And yet, when it comes to accessories, Ely cautioned that most consumers still prefer to make purchases in brick and mortar stores. Social media at this point is often leveraged more for CE device purchases. “I do think social media for accessories is more of a secondary tool,” he said. If people do turn to social media for CE purchase decisions, most are searching by product and brand information about CE devices. Information found on social media sites about store purchase location is one area of interest to accessory buyers, however.
Although CE accessory purchasers are not turning en masse to social media to make buying decisions at this point, the conversations consumers are generating online about their CE accessory purchases are overwhelming positive, with 4 out of 5 comments made online about a CE accessory purchase being a positive one, CEA found. With this in mind, businesses may just need to figure out how to effectively join the conversation.