Which Social Channels Matter Most to Your Shoppers?

Social intelligence firm NetBase released a special report, "Social Channels of Influence for Apparel: A Consumer Study" that reveals the social platforms that influence women's buying decisions across categories in apparel.

Based on a study of 1,005 women across the United States with profiles on at least one social network, NetBase uncovered that social media channels vary in influence by apparel type, social behavior and consumer ethnicity.

In the US, women's apparel is a $175 billion industry. For apparel brands within this global market, it's a competitive advantage to know which social channels to use for understanding shoppers and influencing their purchase decisions. When looking specifically at the survey results regarding buying behavior in the apparel categories (career/office, active/fitness, special occasion, and casual), NetBase found:
  • Social channel influence varies across apparel subcategories. Women most frequently turn to the experts on blogs and message boards when making decisions about career and special occasion clothing. For casual clothing, they trust their friends and what they see on Facebook. In active/fitness wear, visuals and friends' opinions are both important.
  • Twitter is not a top influencer, unless celebrities are involved. Female social media users who are more likely to use brands or products associated with celebrities they like are 60 percent more likely to have Twitter profiles and be influenced by twitter than female social media users overall.
  • Social media matters a lot for two key consumer segments. Forty-six percent of fashionistas and 62 percent of social shoppers are influenced by Facebook in at least one apparel subcategory; 51 percent of fashionistas and 52 percent of social shoppers are influenced by fashion blogs and message boards in at least one apparel subcategory. A full 40 percent of fashionistas and 42 percent of social shoppers are influenced by Pinterest in at least one apparel subcategory.
  • Hispanic female social media users influenced by visual channels. Hispanic female social users also index high for social influence in the apparel categories analyzed. This especially holds true in the visual channels. In the casual clothing subcategory, Hispanic female social media users are 71 percent more likely to look to Pinterest for inspiration than female social media users overall and twice as likely to look to Instagram.
"This report confirms the direction of many marketing strategies deployed by apparel retailers, yet reveals detailed insights into the exact social channels of influence that impact each category of clothing," said Lisa Joy Rosner, CMO of NetBase. "Apparel companies need to learn who and what influences their brand and industry conversations, approach demographics differently by platform, and consider Twitter as a key to celebrity endorsement plans."

To understand how social media influences women's fashion purchases, NetBase commissioned Edison Research to survey a representative sample of women over 18 years of age in the United States who have a profile on or more social networks. The sample of 1,005 women was collected in May 2013 and is weighted to the national U.S. population of adult female social media users.
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