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Even away from the social feeds, influencer marketing seems to be everywhere these days. Some 4 in 5 marketers believe it to be an effective tactic, with the majority reporting that the ROI they generate is comparable or better than marketing channels. But consumers might not be that easily swayed: this year’s results from PwC’s global consumer study has found that just 17% of respondents say they are more likely to buy a product or service if it has an endorsement from an influencer or celebrity.

Instead, a far greater proportion say their purchases are influenced by positive reviews on social media (32%). Other research from Namogoo backs this up, with close to 8 in 10 American online shoppers saying that reviews help make for a great online shopping experience.

Another aspect more influential than the influencers are offers and promotions shared by others (28%). Shoppers are always keen to get a bargain, and research has indeed found that discounts come top of the list for the types of content that consumers want to see on social media.

These points aside – and not forgetting that friends and family are typically the most influential for purchase decisions – close to 1 in 3 (29%) of the more than 20,000 consumers surveyed agreed that they had been inspired to make a purchase from social media.

Social Ads Marked as Influential When Interactive or Shoppable

When asked to choose their top three most influential types of ad, popular choices include those that link directly to offers or promotions for their favorite brand or product (26%), or other types of social media ad that allow them to interact (25%). This is approaching the level of influence for traditional TV ads (35%) – although as covered in MarketingCharts’s Media Audience Demographics Report [available for purchase], television still has a wider weekly media reach, as 80% of Americans watch some form of traditional programming on their TV set in a given week, compared to 68% who report using a social network. Moreover, TV ads still influence a greater share of American adults to make a purchase than do social media ads, according to MarketingCharts’ Purchase Influencers Report [available for purchase].

PwC’s study, meanwhile, also shows that shopping straight from social media is far less prevalent in the US compared to other countries. Fewer than 1 in 5 (17%) respondents in the US said they had made a purchase directly through a shoppable photo or post, compared to 38% in the Middle East and 50% in Thailand. This is a figure that Mark Zuckerberg clearly wants to change, as the Facebook CEO has remarked that “increasing commerce on Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp is one of the most exciting opportunities that we have.”

Sustainability Drives Consumer Decisions

Another finding highlighted in the study is that global consumers are actively making decisions to reduce their impact on the planet. More than 4 in 10 (41%) said that they avoid the use of plastic where possible, while more than a third choose to look for products with environmentally friendly packaging (37%) and buy items with less packaging (37%). Aside from the packaging of products, marketers should also look to put their environmental credentials into their wider brand efforts, as close to 1 in 3 (29%) said that they buy brands that promote sustainable practices.

Separate research has highlighted the benefits to firms that look to positively impact society. A survey of more than 1,000 US adults found that roughly 8 in 10 (79%) said they would be more loyal to a company that leads with purpose, with 89% agreeing that corporate social responsibility is paramount in demonstrating such purpose.

Tying this specifically to social media, Sprout Social noted that almost half (46%) of US consumers feel connected when brands discuss social good initiatives.

Put together, this data shows that even if influencer marketing does deliver ROI, there are also many other positive ways in which brands can engage with customers on social media.

More data from the study can be viewed online here.

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