Six per cent of shoppers have made purchases through social media campaigns, with 9 per cent actively following brands, and 37 per cent saying brand presence on social media is pointless, according to new research.
The study, conducted by researcher Shoppercentric, also suggests gender differences - men use social media to shop, and women prefer to use it to interact with others.
Danielle Pinnington, managing director at Shoppercentric, said: "The gender and age divides between these social and mobile platforms could be put to good use by retailers, to better target and engage their customers."
* 38 per cent of men, but just 29 per cent of women own a smartphone.
* Facebook is used by 56 per cent of people - 60 per cent of women, but just 52 per cent of men.
* 14 per cent of men shop using apps, but only 8 per cent of women do.
* 27 per cent of male shoppers use price comparison sites, while only 19 per cent of women do.
Retailers are proving to be the gateways for brands, with 75 per cent of people visiting retail websites, but less than half that number - 33 per cent - going to brand websites.
Meanwhile, 63 per cent of shoppers will buy through either a retail or brand website. For social media campaigns, this figure falls to 6 per cent.
Pinnington said: "There also seems to be a fundamental barrier in consumers'/shoppers' minds as to why they should communicate directly with a brand, or why a brand would want to communicate directly with them. That doesn't mean they won't communicate with brands - it simply means brands need to work much harder to set up and maintain the connection.
"Brands need to think hard about what they want to share, not just what they want to get out of the conversation. And they need to work on the basis they have to seek out these connections rather than assuming consumers/shoppers will come to them.
"Ultimately, they need to create a social network space that generates curiosity in the brand, and gives a reason for visitors to keep coming back."
Using social media, the main reasons for connecting with brands was found to be:
* 32 per cent - finding out something new
* 23 per cent - for brands to connect with them
* 24 per cent - to be sold something by brands
* 12 per cent - for brands or retailers to help them have fun
More than half (54 per cent) of people thought brands or retailers used social media to sell more products, while 43 per cent thought it was "because everyone else is".
Reasons for consumers to follow brands on social media:
* 32 per cent - feel part of a group
* 29 per cent - to be part of a forum
* 10 per cent - for discounts or promotions
* 6 per cent - to complain
Falling brand engagement by age group through social networks:
* 16- to 24-year-olds - 38 per cent
* 25- to 34-year-olds - 29 per cent
* 35- to 44-year-olds - 18 per cent
* 45- 54-year-olds - 8 per cent
* 55+ - 0 per cent of sample
In addition, 56 per cent of the 55+ age group said they could not see the point of social networking.
Dr Susan Rose, associate professor in marketing management at the Henley Business School, commented: "This latest report gives us valuable insight into how different customers today are embracing social media, and the impact that it is having on how they both search for product information and make buying decisions.
"As we move to a truly connected world, retailers are faced with a bewildering array of new media such as Twitter and Facebook. This report helps us to understand this new customer meeting place."
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