There are clear differences in the choices different generations make when using social media to learn about new products, according to results from a recently-released Bluecore survey [download page]. Not too surprisingly, the younger the respondents the more likely they are to turn to a social channel for this purpose – and the more likely they are to use platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat. But don’t forget about the power of email!
Despite a majority (64%) of respondents overall reporting use of at least one social channel to learn about new products, email is clearly the preferred channel for receiving brand communications, supporting the conclusion of numerous other pieces of research. Some 68% said this was the case, a figure that was relatively consistent across generations, ranging from a low of 62% among Millennials to a high of 73% among Baby Boomers. (This isn’t the first time that Millennials have demonstrated an affinity for email that runs contrary to some opinion.)
Somewhat surprisingly, respondents also overwhelmingly pointed to email as the most personal form of communication from brands. (Email marketing is one of the biggest purchase influencers of all across generations, according to MarketingCharts’ 3rd Annual “Advertising Channels With the Largest Purchase Influence on Consumers” study.)
But while only a fraction of respondents (including youth) pointed to social channels as their most personal or most preferred form of brand communication, the survey results do indicate that social channels are important for product awareness. This aligns with Nielsen research, which has shown that social media is the fastest-growing source of new product awareness.
It’s worth noting that the Bluecore respondents are all shoppers who had made an online purchase in the 3 months prior to the survey, so their product awareness sources are important to understand. Digging through the social channels used by each generation, the survey results indicate that:
- – Facebook is the single most popular channel (23% of respondents) overall, and is the channel most likely to be used by each generation;
- – Unlike the overall results, Baby Boomers and Gen Xers are more likely to check Pinterest than Instagram to learn about new products;
- – Gen Z are the most attuned to Instagram, being the only generation more likely to check Instagram than YouTube; and
- – Gen Z is likewise the only generation more likely to check Snapchat than Twitter.
(See the full results by enlarging the above chart.)
Meanwhile, returning to email, the report’s findings show that Gmail is the most commonly-used provider overall for personal email, and that smartphones are the devices primarily used by the most respondents in each generation to check their personal email.
Among Gmail users, 64% reported using the Promotions tab, with Gen Z (73%) and Millennials (70%) most likely to be using it to filter emails from retailers. Retail emails aren’t left there to languish in obscurity, though: almost half (47%) of these respondents check the Promotions tab at least daily.
About the Data: The results are based on a Bluecore-commissioned study conducted by NAPCO Research. The online survey included 1,174 consumers who had made an online purchase within the prior 3 months. The generations were defined as follows:
- Gen Z: 1995-2015;
- Millennials: 1980-1995;
- Gen X: 1965-1980; and
- Bay Boomers: 1945-1965.