KPMG report downplays influence of social media

A global study by KMPG reveals 86% of the consumers surveyed actively engage in social networking regularly, but only a third say social media influences their purchasing decisions.


The Converged Lifestyle, an annual report by the business advisory firm, is based on a study of 9,600 consumers from 31 countries, including 300 Australian consumers.


The study shows 86% of the consumers surveyed actively engage in social networking on a regular basis, while 49% spend at least one hour on social networking sites every day.


“It should come as no surprise that three quarters of respondents prefer to access social networks from their PC… However, tablets have made significant inroads,” the report said.


“Already, 7% of consumers said they preferred to conduct their social networking activities on a tablet, versus 16% who gain access through their mobiles.”


“As a result, almost half of respondents said they have downloaded a social networking application at some point in the past year; two thirds of whom have downloaded more than one app.”


But according to the report, the influence of social networking “may suffer from a level of hype”, suggesting start-ups should not rely on social media as their key sales strategy.


“Only about a third of respondents admit that they are influenced in their purchasing decision by ‘fan pages’ while almost half say that they look to company websites instead,” it said.


“This may merely indicate consumers’ desire to see the ‘technical specifications’ of products, more typically found on a company’s website rather than on ‘fan pages’, which are predominantly for brand-building.”


Nearly two thirds of consumers are willing to have their online usage tracked by advertisers – up from half when the same question was asked in 2008 – but there is a caveat.


“Consumers expect to gain some value from sharing their data, such as discounted or free content or services,” KPMG said in its report.


“Interestingly, consumers are particular about which device they receive advertising on. Almost half of all respondents said that they were willing to receive ads on their PCs.”


“But they were much more protective of their mobile device, with just 38% saying they prefer ads to be distributed via this channel.”


KPMG says the consumer’s age also makes a difference in their acceptance of advertising.


More than three quarters of respondents aged between 16 and 24 years indicated they were willing to receive advertisements, compared to 48% of those aged over 65.

“As consumers show more willingness to have their online activity tracked, advertisers will start to undergo a fundamental shift from ‘blast’ advertising campaigns towards more personalised and value-added promotions,” the report said.


“More importantly, it opens a new revenue stream for any company that can ‘own’ their customers’ data and successfully monetise it in the market.”


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