A study conducted by the National Retail Federation and BIG Research found that things like online video-game ads, blogs and text messages are gaining influence overall with consumers, particularly in the electronics category. While the numbers for all adults over 18 are still relatively small -- online video-game ads influence 7% of electronics purchases, while text messages influence 3% of clothing purchases, for example -- they jump to compelling levels among the coveted 18- to 34-year-old demographic.
Online video-game ads influenced 14% of electronics purchases among that group, while blogs influenced 11%, figures that outrank outdoor billboards and satellite radio. Text messaging is also gaining traction, influencing 9% of electronics purchases among 18- to 34-year-olds and 6% of clothing purchases.
New media rising
"As new technology places itself on the market, [it] is diverting attention from the typical newspaper and magazine advertisements," said Pamela Goodfellow, senior analyst at BIG Research. "It's up to retailers to be nimble in knowing what the latest and greatest is to reach their customers."
Product placement is also particularly effective among the 18- to 34-year-old demographic. A full 18% of shoppers said it influenced their electronics purchase, while 16% said it impacted a clothing purchase.
Among mass-marketing vehicles, retail ad inserts, which include traditional circulars and multi-advertiser coupon packages, are the most influential in both electronics and clothing purchases, with 29% and 33% of consumers citing them, respectively. Broadcast TV is effective in influencing 26% of electronics purchases, but it is not as effective in the clothing category, where it influences 21% of purchases. Instead, magazines are more influential in the clothing category, at 27%, although that medium only affects 23% of electronics purchases. Newspapers impact 23% of electronics and apparel purchases.
Customer experiences matter, too
Still, while the bulk of retailers' holiday marketing budgets is spent against media like broadcast TV and circulars, they would be wise to increase their focus on things like customer service, the in-store experience and public relations. The study found that word of mouth influences a full 44% of electronics purchases and 34% of clothing purchases. Meanwhile, articles or product reviews influenced 37% of electronics purchases and 12% of clothing purchases.
"When consumers are happy, they tell others," Ms. Goodfellow said. "Retailers need to be looking at [word of mouth] more carefully. It's kind of hard to control, because it's more about providing the best customer service and the best shopping experience, [but] it's a great tool."