A recently released study from Radius Global Marketing Research identifies some key similarities and differences in shopping habits, preferences, and influences among Millennials (18-32) and Baby Boomers (49-67). One of the key differences pertains the top sources of information that influence purchase decisions. Millennials appear to be more influenced by word-of-mouth (WOM) than Baby Boomers, while the latter are more reliant on advertising than the younger generation.
The survey asked respondents which sources of information are influential to them across four product categories - apparel, packaged goods, financial products, and big-ticket purchases (such as travel and electronics). WOM emerged as the leading purchase influencer (top-two box score) in each category among Millennials, with search engines also among the top three for each category.
Among Boomers, WOM is the top influencer for financial products and big-ticket purchases, but was only third for packaged goods purchases, and fell out of the top three for apparel decisions. Interestingly, though, Boomers ranked advertising among the top three influencers in each category, giving it top billing for packaged goods decisions.
The data is based on an online survey conducted in the summer of 2013 among a nationally representative sample of 738 respondents.
The strength of WOM isn't too surprising, given research released last year by Nielsen finding that recommendations are the most-trusted and most-influential information sources among global consumers. Asked to what extent do you trust the following forms of advertising, Recommendations From People I Know rated 84 percent in the Nielsen survey, followed by Branded Websites, 69 percent; Consumer Opinions Posted Online, 68 percent; Editorial Content Such As Newspaper Articles, 67 percent and Ads On TV, 62 percent.
What's the likelihood that Millennials will rely more on word-of-mouth recommendations as a purchase influencer over advertising as they age versus Boomers at the same ages?