Study: The Top 5 Brand Research Channels

Consumers are becoming better informed. Thanks to the internet, there’s a huge wealth of information about every product and brand just a couple clicks away. We use to have to rely on the recommendations of friends and coworkers, magazines like Consumer Reports, or simply buying it and hoping for the best. Now we find countless sources to tell us everything we want to know while still in the early inquiry stage.

The sources people turn to for this information are very important. They can mean the difference between a product becoming the must-buy product or fizzling and being forgotten. For marketers, making sure we’re presenting the best in these places can help mean your brand/product is on everyone’s wish list, rather than perused and passed over. Here are the top 5 ways people research brands and products when they’re looking to buy.

The Sources They’re Searching

As part of their new GWI Brand flagship report, GlobalWebIndex surveyed internet users, ages 16–64, on which sources they utilize when looking for more information on brands, products, and services.

They found that the place people turn most often is to search engines. That may not surprise most but consumer reviews were a close 2nd when it came to finding out more, trailing by just 3%. Going to the source and checking the product/brand website was the 3rd most popular place, with price comparison sites coming in 4th, followed closely by social media.

The usage of the most popular method, search engines, increased in popularity as the groups aged. This is interesting to note as it would seem that the older crowd relies more on search to find their product/brand/service information. The younger folks still rely on search a good deal but more than half of the time they turn to other methods.

While most of us assume (correctly) that the first place consumers turn is to places like Google, it’s surprising how closely search engines are followed by consumer reviews. Seeing price comparison websites on the list is a bit of a surprise also, as they generally do what their name states, rather than provide a lot of information outside of the best place to buy the product you’ve already settled on purchasing.

To see social media make the list highlights the importance of sites like Facebook and Twitter in consumer decisions. Not only do they see products they may be interested in on these sites while looking for updates from friends and family, but they actually go to these sites when they’re looking to find more on a particular product or service.

What Does It Mean To Marketers

Knowing where people turn when they’re looking to find the information they’ll use to make their buying decisions is hugely helpful to marketers. It gives us a list of the spots we need to make sure we’re present with information for prospective buyers to find. If you aren’t in these places, you aren’t being considered or seen when people look to find more.

Looking at the list, it looks like most of us have 3 of the 5 covered fairly well. While social may not be something everyone is heavy into (this is just another example of why you need to make social part of your marketing mix), most businesses make sure their websites have plenty of product info and they’re showing up in search. With those covered well, it’s the other two we may want to put some effort into.

Most leave consumer reviews to chance. They focus on selling their products and let people review their products if they feel the need. That doesn’t have to be the case. You can impact those reviews by reaching out and seeing how you can help make people happier with their experience (and possibly raise their review). You can also make sure to get your product into the hands of the right people to review your product in a positive light. If you aren’t putting much effort into shaping how people perceive your product in reviews, it may be time to do so.

Price comparison sites are another spot we don’t often pay attention to when marketing. We see those sites as a place people go when they’re ready to make a purchase. That’s sales world to deal with. Not true. These sites also carry a wealth of information about the products they provide price comparisons of. If you aren’t providing the information to them, they’re getting it where ever they want, and it may not be what you like. Providing the information buyers need when comparing options can mean the difference between them going with your band and buying from someone else. Make sure you own that info.

In addition to hitting the spots you may be missing, this is a good time to make sure you’re doing the mainstays well too. Your website may have a good amount of information about your product/service, but could it have more? You’re showing up in search, but how can you show up more often for the things people are searching for? You’re active in social, but how can you be sure people are finding the right information about you and your brand when they turn to Twitter for more buying advice?

Being Where People Are Looking

Being in the places people turn when they’re seeking the knowledge they need to make a buying decision is imperative as the population becomes better informed buyers. If you aren’t where they’re searching, you aren’t an option for them. By knowing where consumers turn when they want to know more, marketers can ensure they’ve got the right message waiting for prospective buyers to find. Now that you know where they’re looking, it’s time to make sure they’re finding the information they need, and the stuff that’ll make them see that you’re the right choice.


Originally published at benbrausen.com on October 6, 2015.

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