Half of women in 2011 said they regularly influence friends and family to buy or not buy a particular product or service, representing a 61% jump from 31% who responded that way in 2008, according to [pdf] a white paper released in January 2012 by Fleishman-Hillard in partnership with Hearst Magazine. Millennials (61%) were the most likely to say they influence their friends and family, followed by Gen X women (46%), Boomers (36%), and Seniors (29%). In fact, a majority in each age group except for Seniors reported feeling it their responsibility to help friends and family make smart purchase decisions, led again by Millennials (73%).
Women’s propensity to influence friends and family may be related to the great importance they place on recommendations: 84% of Millennials and 79% of Gen X women said they have purchased or not purchased a particular product or brand because of something a friend or family member told them. 88% of Millennials and 80% of Gen X women also said that having someone they know and trust make a purchase recommendation for them is a great comfort.
According to a June 2011 study from Nielsen, despite high rates of technology penetration among women in both developed and emerging global markets, recommendations from people they know are the most trusted source of information for women, with 73% in developed countries and 82% in emerging countries trusting this type of recommendation.
SocNets Aid Purchasing, Influence
Social networking sites appear to be playing a growing role in the expansion of women’s networks and purchase influence, though. According to the Fleishman-Hillard study, 73% of respondents reported using Facebook, up from 65% in January 2010, while 65% said they were a friend or fan of a company, brand, or product on Facebook. In fact, more than one-quarter said that using social networking sites has made it easier for them to decide on what to buy, and that using the sites to share their shopping and product experiences makes them feel more empowered.
In-Person Still Most Popular Communication Method
In-person communications – in social gatherings (52%), at work (39%), or in a store (21%) – remain the most popular methods used by women to provide information or recommendations, ahead of using a social networking site (15%). Other popular methods used for communication and influence include the phone (27%) and email (16%), with texting (12%) and posting a review or blog online (6%) less widespread.
Influences are Largely Positive
Data from “Game Changers: Women Defining the New American Marketplace” indicates that in the prior 6 months, respondents were more likely to have recommended a specific product or service to someone than to have recommended that someone not buy a specific product or service (33% vs. 19%). Similarly, a greater proportion reported having commented about a great experience they had with a product or service on a social network than having vented their frustrations over a bad product or service experience (16% vs. 11%).
- 88% of women said that they still rely on their intuition more than anything else when making a purchase.
- The top reasons women cited for providing feedback or recommendations about products or services were because they think the person they recommended it to would enjoy it or benefit from it (58%) and because they want people to experience the same positive experience they had (54%).
About the Data: The Fleishman-Hillard results are based on a 20-minute online survey from Sept. 8-15, 2011, among 1,270 women in the U.S. aged 25-69 with an annual household income of $25,000 or more.