October 19, 2010
Study explores how women share information
Websites now preferred over word of mouth
A new North American study has found women are using a combination of off-line and online forms of word-of-mouth to seek and spread the word on products and services, however their approach changes significantly depending on their lifestage and the type of product involved.
The study of 2,000 women, conducted by Harbinger with Ipsos, found that websites (70%) have now surpassed traditional forms of word-of-mouth (58%) as their preferred method for getting the word about products and services. However, when it comes to sharing information or opinions, women are still nearly three times more likely to do so with family and friends than to go online. The study explored differences in word-of-mouth practices across 14 product categories and by six Harbinger-defined lifestages that describe how like-minded women approach products and services. Following are key findings for how women get and spread the word.
The study found that less than a third (28%) of women decide what products or services to buy without looking for some kind of help. While most women spend time researching before buying, their approach changes depending on the product category involved and their lifestage. For example: Who are the most trusted sources for information/opinions? Nearly three-quarters (71%) of women rely on friends and family when exploring Restaurants, but only 41% rely on them when deciding about Clothing or Fashion.
Half (51%) of ‘Singletons’, but only a third (34%) of ‘Career Graduates’ rely on family and friends when making choices about Home Furnishings. ‘New Moms’ are the most likely to go online first (non-traditional word-of-mouth) for product information before turning to family and friends to finalize their choice.
Members of the ‘Back to Me’ lifestage are the most likely to look to family and friends first for information, before going online to finalize their choice.
“Marketers need to be aware of how product category and lifestage impact the decision-making process so they can provide women with relevant, useful information where they prefer to find it,” says Deborah Adams, Senior Vice-President, Harbinger. “Our study has provided a general roadmap for reaching women at different lifestages with category-specific messages.
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