Select Page

Salesforce-Consumer-Goods-Research-by-Generation-June2016Consumers across generations are most likely to use online product reviews to research a consumer goods product or brand before buying, according to a Salesforce Research report [pdf]. Based on a survey of more than 2,000 US adults, the study shows that online reviews and word-of-mouth are considerably more influential to the research process for Millennials than for older adults.

That finding is supported by various other pieces of research:

  • A recent MarketingCharts study analyzing marketing financial services to Millennials found that this group relies on word-of-mouth to a much greater extent than other adults when choosing a financial services institution;
  • A survey from Deloitte revealed that word-of-mouth influences purchases more for Millennials and Gen Xers than for Baby Boomers and Matures;
  • Likewise, a new MarketingCharts study of consumer purchase influencers revealed that word-of-mouth has a far greater influence on Millennials than on older generations; and
  • A Radius Global Marketing Research study from back in early 2014 similarly demonstrated that word-of-mouth is the top influence on Millennials’ purchases across 4 categories, with Baby Boomers more reliant on advertising.

In sum, the body of research suggests that Millennials are heavily impacted by the views of friends and family. However, user-generated content – also long associated with Millennials – is perhaps even more influential. In fact, Millennial respondents in the Salesforce study trust online reviewers (40%) most to provide accurate information about consumer goods products, considerably ahead of friends/family/colleagues (24%). This also brings to mind research from several years ago, in which Bazaarvoice data indicated that Millennials entrust their purchase decisions to user-generated content more so than to friends and family.

Millennials’ reliance on word-of-mouth and reviews suggests that positive and negative buzz can have a multiplier effect for brands. On a somewhat encouraging note, more respondents reported having praised a brand publicly (40%) than complained about one publicly (27%), with this true also for 18-34-year-olds (49% and 33%, respectively).

Among those who had praised a brand, the most common outlets for doing so were:

  • In person to others (69% overall; 71% among Millennials);
  • In-store (47% overall; 37% among Millennials); and
  • On personal online channels such as social media or a blog (45% overall; 60% among Millennials).

Respondents who had complained about a brand publicly also were most apt to have done so in person to others (66%). But while in-store or complaints or those over email were the next-most common among Gen Xers (35-54) and Baby Boomers (55+), personal online channels were the second choice for Millennials.

Other Fast Facts

The Salesforce research reveals several other interesting findings:

  • Some 45% of adults agree that they have a negative reaction when seeing an online ad or social media promotion of a brand that is related to something they just searched for online, with this sentiment lowest among Millennials (38%) and highest among Boomers (49%);
  • Asked why they have a negative reaction, the leading reason given was that it is invasive (61%), followed closely by it being annoying or interrupting the respondents’ actions (57%), with both again more commonly cited by older adults;
  • When buying a consumer goods products, adults are more satisfied with the pricing and selection from online-only retailers than with brick-and-mortar stores, but feel that they get better customer service and promotions/offers at brick-and-mortar stores;
  • Given the same price, respondents would prefer to make a purchase at a brick-and-mortar store (53%) than at an online-only retailer (28%) or directly from the brand (13%); and
  • A majority of respondents prefer to purchase consumer goods in-store rather than via digital means, with this most true of food (95%) and least true for luxury items (55%).

About the Data: The survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of Salesforce, May 9-11, 2016, among 2,095 adults, ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

Feel Like You're Always Playing Catchup?

Stay ahead of the curve with our free newsletter. It’s fast. It’s factual. And it’s clear

marketing charts logo

Error: Please enter a valid email address

Error: Invalid email

Error: Please enter your first name

Error: Please enter your last name

Error: Please enter a username

Error: Please enter a password

Error: Please confirm your password

Error: Password and password confirmation do not match