Search Dominates Social Networking For Product Discovery, Study Says

Search engines are the number one way that consumers find out about new products, according to a new study commissioned by commerce software developer ATG. The survey was conducted online and polled 1,002 U.S. adult consumers in July 2010.

One question asked respondents to list up to five ways they discover new products. 53% of respondents across all age groups said they discover products through search engines. Only 8% said they discover new online products via “links or information on social networking sites.”


In the survey, men were more likely to rely on search engines to discover new products (59% compared to 47% of women). And younger adults were somewhat less likely to discover products through search engines. 47% in the 18-34 age group said search engines, compared to 55% in the 35-54 group, and 52% in the 55 and older segment.

But if social networking isn’t a primary driver overall of product awareness, there are plenty of surveys that have shown its importance for product and customer support. And the ATG study emphasizes that both social and mobile platforms are increasingly important to younger consumers. Consider these stats:

  • About 29% of respondents aged 18-34 said they have discovered a product or service through a social network. That figure is lower for older adults.
  • 37% of consumers aged 18-34 said it was “important” or “very important” that merchants provide an opportunity to interact through social networks.
  • 50% of the 18-34 group are using Facebook to “like” merchants, interact with other consumers and friends about products, post images and reviews, seek customer service, look for coupons, and post messages to a merchant’s fan page.
  • About 41% of consumers aged 18-34 are using their mobile device to complete purchases of products and services with varying frequencies.
  • 46% of 18-34 year-olds are using their mobile devices to receive text notifications from merchants, search for coupons, browse through merchants’ collections, and seek ratings and reviews.

You can request a copy of the study on ATG’s website.

Related Topics: Channel: Strategy | Search & Society: General | Stats: Search Behavior | Top News


About The Author: is Editor-In-Chief of Search Engine Land. His news career includes time spent in TV, radio, and print journalism. His web career continues to include a small number of SEO and social media consulting clients, as well as regular speaking engagements at marketing events around the U.S. He recently launched a site dedicated to Google Glass called Glass Almanac and also blogs at Small Business Search Marketing. Matt can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee and/or on Google Plus. You can read Matt's disclosures on his personal blog.

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  • Greg Bogdan

    Thanks for sharing Danny. Some of the buzz around social could leave some folks with the impression that Search is not so important. Social is influential and touches at different stages but search is still very dominant. Great to see the data.

    And with “social search” via Google’s newish left panel options (updates, blog, discussions) plus the mixing of social in universal results, the lines do blur.

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