A recent study from the Canadian Council of Public Relations (CCPRF) examined popular sources – including social media, blogs, company websites, and traditional media – that Canadians rely on when looking to purchase a product or service. While the majority of Canadians still prefer traditional media sources when seeking product information, the results clearly indicate a “significant generational gap” in the use of social media for purchase research.
The online survey – from September 2011 – looked at Canadians’ preferred sources of product information:
- newspapers topped the list as a preferred source of product information for 86% of respondents
- TV was a top source for 83%
- company websites topped the list of digital sources for product info, listed by 68% of Canadians
- blogs were a top source for 29%
- Facebook for 21%
- only 15% preferred to look to Twitter for product research
However, despite a clear overall preference for traditional media sources, younger consumers were significantly more likely to turn to social media sources for product information:
- Almost 4 in 10 Canadians (38%) aged 18-34 listed blogs as a top research source when purchasing a product or service, compared to less than half that (16%) of Canadians aged 55 or older
- More than 1 in 4 Canadians (27%) under 34 years of age reported YouTube as one of their top research sources vs. only 15% of the boomer generation (adults over 55)’
Perhaps even more important, the younger generation was twice as likely to trust social media and company web sites as “credible news sources”:
- 18-34 year old Canadians were nearly twice as likely as those 35-54 to list social media sources (such as Facebook) as credible news sources (22% vs. 12%)
- 18-34 year-olds were also twice as likely to trust company websites as credible news sources vs. boomer Canadians (23% vs. 10%)
According to Carol Levine, chair of the CCPRF, “A significant portion of our younger generation sees blogs, YouTube, Facebook and company websites as credible sources of news. This suggests to us, that in their minds – and in contrast to older Canadians – the boundaries of credibility between news, “circle of trust” conversations and marketing are blurring.”
Do you agree?