Improved segmentation and targeting key to social and mobile engagement

16th Mar 2011

Big gender and age divides in the way that consumers use mobile and social media mean that both brands and retailers need to focus on segmenting and targeting different demographics more effectively, a study has revealed.
A survey undertaken among 1,000 UK adults aged between 18 and 64 by researcher Shoppercentric also showed that, while 63% of consumers visited retailers' or brands' websites to make purchases, only a tiny 6% did so via a social media site.
Although three out of five women used Facebook compared with 52% of men, only 9% of either gender chose to follow any given brands on social media, with 37% saying that they did not see the point of brands using the channel. Only 18% said the same of retailers, however.
Some 54% believed that the only reason either brands or retailers did employ social media, in fact, was to sell more products to them, while 43% felt they had a presence simply because everyone else did.
Of those that did connect with a brand or retailer using social media, however, 32% did so to find out something new. The aim in following a brand, meanwhile, was to feel part of a group (32%) or to share their thoughts and be part of a forum (29%).
A mere 10%, on the other hand, became followers in order to obtain discounts, vouchers or other promotions, while 6% signed up to make a complaint.
But the age split between shoppers willing to follow a given brand/retailer or not varied hugely by age group. While 38% of 16-24 year olds already did so, the number dropped to 29% among 25 to 34 year olds, to 18% among 35 to 44 year olds, to 8% among 45-54 year olds and to zero among those aged over 55. Some 56% of the latter age group simply failed to see the point.
On the mobile side of things, however, there was a further gender divide. While 38% of men had a smartphone compared with 29% of women, males were more inclined to use them as a support tool for making purchases (14%) than females (8%).
Danielle Pinnington, Shoppercentric's managing director, said: "The use of social networking and mobile commerce in the business context is still in its early stages of development. However, as these figures are suggesting, the gender and age divides between these social and mobile platforms could be put to good use by retailers to better target and engage customers."
But brands also needed to work harder to set up and maintain connections with consumers in a social media context and to think about what they wanted to share with them, not just what they could get out of the conversation, she added.
"They also need to work on the basis they have to seek out these connections rather than assuming consumers/shoppers will come to them. Ultimately, they need to create a social network space, which generates curiosity in the brand and gives a reason for visitors to keep coming back," Pinnington said.

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