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Consumers are still highly influenced by word of mouth (W-O-M) when it comes to trying out a new retailer. A full 45% of consumers say that a friend or family member had recommended the most recent retailer they had purchased from for the first time, per findings from a new report [download page] from Yes Marketing.

W-O-M has been a driving influence throughout the history of marketing and is still as vital in the digital age. This is backed up by recent research that found that W-O-M is one of the top purchasing influencers for Gen X and that recommendations from friends and family have the greatest influence over large purchases.

So, it should not be a surprise that W-O-M is the top method by which people learn about new retailers. Beyond their friends and acquaintances, consumers found out about the latest new retailer via Google search (16% share of respondents), print/mail/TV ads (14%), and recommendations from a product review site (8%).

Price and Quality Have Most Influence on Retailer Selection

About half (47% share) of the 1,000 retail shoppers surveyed for the report say that price is the most influential factor when purchasing from a retailer for the first time. This is followed by the quality of the product, which 39% share of the respondents said was the most influential product factor when purchasing from a retailer they’ve never shopped with before. The remaining respondents pointed to product selection (8% share) and the availability of products in stock (7% share) as their top product factors.

Everyone Loves Free Shipping

Prior research shows that the majority of US consumers are influenced to purchase online by the option of free shipping, and are willing to wait up to 4.5 days to receive their purchase with free shipping. This more recent study reveals that when it comes to convenience factors, free or expedited shipping was most influential for a leading 40% share of the respondents.

Free or expedited shipping is even more important than a store’s proximity: fewer (24% of) respondents reported that proximity to a store is the top convenience factor they consider when choosing to purchase from a new retailer.

Brand Messaging Needs to Be Relevant and Inspire Trust

While marketers don’t necessarily have much say over some of the factors that influence first-time purchases at a new retailer, they do have control over the message the brand conveys. When it comes to the marketing factors that influence the decision to shop at a new retailer, one-third (33% share) of respondents indicate that they are most inspired by marketing when the message is relevant, while one-quarter (25%) are most influenced by marketing messages that make them trust the company. By comparison, only about 1 in 8 (12%) are most influenced to shop at a new retailer by brand messages that are unique or exciting.

To read more, download the report here.

About the Data: Findings are based on a survey of 1,000 retail shoppers.

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