Report: What Influences Consumer Purchases?

We just published a Temkin Group data snapshot, What Influences Consumer Purchases?

This study shows that social media has gained ground since last year, but is still not a top influencer. We surveyed 10,000 U.S. consumers to find out what information sources they use to purchase autos, cell phones, computers, credit cards, health plans, insurance policies, and televisions. The analysis looks at sources such as Facebook and Twitter, discussions with friends and employees, discussions with company employees, and information on various websites. Our analysis examines differences across age groups and analyzes changes over the last year.

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We start the analysis by examining the degree to which social sources—Facebook and Twitter, ratings and reviews websites, and discussions with friends and family— are influencing purchase decisions. The online social media sources remain relatively low on the list, but Facebook and Twitter gaining ground (as you can see below in figure 2 from the report).

The data is rich with insights into how consumers of all ages make purchase decisions. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Autos: More than two-thirds of consumers rely on their discussions with employees at the dealership. While this source is one of the top two across age groups, it’s particularly important for consumers who are 45 and older.
  • Cell phones: Last year as well as this year, interactions with employees are at the top of the list. This is becoming even more important for consumers younger than 35.
  • Computers: Across all age groups, consumers rely more on discussions with store employees than on information from Facebook or Twitter users.
  • Credit cards: On average, respondents use information on the credit card website more than they use any other source.
  • Health plans: Across all age groups, the most used source of information is either discussions with health plan employees or information on the health plan websites.
  • Insurance policies: Almost two-thirds of those surveyed said that discussing options with insurance agents is helpful. Agents are particularly influential for consumers who are 25 and older.
  • Televisions: Fifty-six percent of respondents said that reviews and ratings on sites other than the retailer’s or the manufacturer’s are helpful. This is the most useful information source for consumers who are younger than 45.

This data snapshot contains the following 15 charts:

  1. Social Influences on Purchases
  2. Social Influences on Purchases, Changes Since 2011
  3. Information Influences on Computer Purchases
  4. Computer Purchases, Changes from 2011 to 2012
  5. Information Influences on Cell Phone Purchases
  6. Cell Phone Purchases, Changes from 2011 to 2012
  7. Information Influences on Credit Card Decisions
  8. Credit Card Decisions, Changes from 2011 to 2012
  9. Information Influences on Insurance Purchases
  10. Insurance Purchases, Changes from 2011 to 2012
  11. Information Influences on Television Purchases
  12. Television Purchases, Changes from 2011 to 2012
  13. Information Influences on Health Plan Selections
  14. Health Plan Selections, Changes from 2011 to 2012
  15. Information Influences on Automobile Purchases

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The bottom line: Social media is not yet a key input to purchase decisions

Written by 

I am an experience management transformist, helping organizations improve business results by engaging the hearts and minds of their customers, employees, and partners. My "job" is Head of the Qualtrics XM Institute. The Institute is still being established, but our goal is to help organizations around the world thrive by mastering Experience Management (XM). As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. Prior to joining Qualtrics, I was managing partner of Temkin Group (leading CX research, advisory, and training firm), co-founder and chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (, and a VP at Forrester Research. I'm a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Check out my LinkedIn profile:

2 thoughts on “Report: What Influences Consumer Purchases?”

  1. I’d be very interested to know the extent to which ‘discussions with (store) employees’ on tech products also included an element of ‘touch and feel the product’ which of course is a unique feature of in-store. Is it the human element (can this be done remotely) or is it the physical element?

    1. Hi Martin: We did not look at that aspect of the experience, although it’s a very good one for us to add next year. For computer purchases, we examined the following elements: Information on the computer manufacturer’s website, Information on the retailer’s website, Reviews and ratings you read at different websites, Discussions with friends and family about the purchase, Discussion with employees at the retail store, Comments that you read on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

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