The social shopper: Harnessing the disruptive power of social media

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  1. 1. The social shopperHarnessing the disruptive inuenceof social mediaA report from the Economist Intelligence UnitSponsored by SAP
  2. 2. The social shopperHarnessing the disruptive inuence of social mediaContentsPreface 2Introduction: Whats old is new again 3About the survey4Toe in the water5The 4 Cs of social media success8Extending social medias inuence 10Conclusion11Appendix: Survey results131 Economist Intelligence Unit Limited 2011
  3. 3. The social shopperHarnessing the disruptive inuence of social mediaPrefaceThe social shopper: Harnessing the disruptive inuence of social media is an Economist Intelligence Unitresearch report, sponsored by SAP. Our thanks go to all survey respondents and interviewees for their timeand insight. The author was Rob ORegan and the editor was Gilda Stahl. The ndings and views expressedin the report do not necessarily reect the views of the sponsor.June 20112 Economist Intelligence Unit Limited 2011
  4. 4. The social shopper Harnessing the disruptive inuence of social media Introduction: Whats old is new again I n 1905, Richard Sears sent boxes of his companys mail-order catalogues to his best customers in Iowa and asked each one to distribute them among friends and neighbours. Mr Sears collected the names of those who received the catalogues and, if they purchased an item, rewarded the inuencers with a gift, in the form of a stove, perhaps, or a sewing machine. Sears has been honing its social media strategy ever since. The channels of communication are different, of course, in todays digital environment. But the objectives are basically the same, even a century later: by connecting with consumers where they congregate, retailers can attract customers, increase loyalty, improve customer service, enhance product innovation and, ultimately, drive new sales. Retailers are just beginning to apply this age-old strategy to the brave new digital world of social media. Its a world dominated by Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other Internet platforms that have changed the way consumers and businesses interact. An Economist Intelligence Unit survey of 179 business executives from retailers across the globe,Were moving to sponsored by SAP, shows just how much the consumer-retailer dynamic is changingas well as howa more dynamic, far retailers still have to go in capitalising on social media as a business tool. While 58% of the surveycollaborative, real- respondents use Facebook to communicate with customers, more than one in ve (21%) say they aretime relationship not using any digital channels to interact with their target audience. The percentage is even higherwith the consumer among hard-line retailerse.g., appliances, electronics, or furniture (26%) and grocery stores (29%). InMark Bonchek, Senior vice-president of communities addition, 23% of the respondents monitor social media sites but dont actively participate on them.and networks, Sears Although a growing number of retailers are sold on the potential benets of social media, its clear that many remain wary about how much they should be leveraging them to connect with their customers. These reservations are fairly consistent among hard-line, soft-line (e.g., apparel) and grocery retailers. Regionally, North American retailers are ahead of the curve in social media adoption; for example, 68% of North American respondents are using Facebook to communicate with customers, compared with 56% in Asia-Pacic, 55% in Latin America and 53% in Western Europe. Acknowledging the disruptive inuence of social media, US retailer Sears Holdings recently appointed Mark Bonchek as the senior vice-president of communities and networks to help the company accelerate its transformation as an integrated retailer. Were moving to a more dynamic, collaborative, real-time relationship with the consumer, says Mr Bonchek. A lot of our attention is on changing the way we operate to take advantage of the new social technologies and consumer behaviours.3 Economist Intelligence Unit Limited 2011
  5. 5. The social shopperHarnessing the disruptive inuence of social mediaThere areSocial media offer promising opportunities for retailers, providing a platform for more directchallenges in interaction with consumers in a way that can strengthen relationships, increase brand loyalty, andhow retailers even foster product innovation. But there are challenges in how retailers must reorganise to capitalisemust reorganise effectively on social media. And there are risks as well, particularly in the rapid way that negative chatterto capitalise can spread virally, tarnishing a brands reputation. For many retailers, the social media mantra is simple:effectively onProceed, but with caution.social media About the survey slightly lower representation from Latin America.Organisations of all sizes are represented: 50% A global survey of 179 senior executives, encompassing of respondents work for rms with revenue over a range of functions, and evenly represented acrossUS$500m. All respondents are from the retail industry. North America, Asia-Pacic and Europe, with aThe survey was conducted in April 2011.4 Economist Intelligence Unit Limited 2011
  6. 6. The social shopperHarnessing the disruptive inuence of social mediaToe in the waterAs the retail sector eyes a return to growth following more than two years of underperformance, social media are emerging as an important channel to help retailers reinforce existing relationships whileattracting new customers to spur business dynamism. The growing inuence of social media amongconsumers certainly cannot be ignored, from a sheer numbers standpoint:l Nine out of every ten US Internet users visit a social networking site at least once a month, spendingmore than four hours on average on these sites monthly. Nearly one out of every eight minutes onlineis spent on Facebook.l Facebook has more than 650m users worldwide, including 155m in the US, 30m in the UK, 23.8m inIndia, 16.5m in Brazil, 10m in Australia and 3.7m in South Africa.l Chinas Renren social network, often referred to as the Facebook of China, has more than 30m activemonthly users.l Twitter has more than 200m registered accountsmore than 100m of which were created in 2010alone. Twitter users post 1bn messages (or tweets) per week. So where do retailers t into this evolving social media fabric? As the Economist Intelligence Unitsurvey shows, platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have become test beds for retailers exploring newWhich of the following activities does your company engage in on social media sites?Select all that apply.(% respondents)We promote new/existing merchandise56We provide customer service (eg, monitor and address customer enquiries or problems)36We offer coupons or other purchase incentives 32We engage in direct dialogue to understand customer sentiment 32We collect competitive information28Other3We have no active participation24Source: Economist Intelligence Unit survey, April 2011.5 Economist Intelligence Unit Limited 2011
  7. 7. The social shopperHarnessing the disruptive inuence of social mediaWhat is the primary objective of your companys social media initiatives?(% respondents)Increase brand awareness 29Increase customer engagement27Expand customer base24Improve customer/product insights 11Improve internal communication and collaboration 3Other7 Source: Economist Intelligence Unit survey, April 2011.ways to engage with consumers. Among survey respondents, 56% use social media to promote new orexisting merchandise and 32% offer coupons through their fan pages and other accounts. Retailers objectives for their social media campaigns are varied: 29% of the respondents say theyrelooking to increase brand awareness, 27% want to increase customer engagement, and 24% are lookingto expand their customer base. Its safe to say theres a larger, shared goal in mind: to move the needleon sales. Examples of social media campaigns that drive sales are increasing. In December 2009, for example,Sephora, a French beauty retailer, held a holiday sweepstakes campaign on Twitter called Sephora Claus, inwhich people tweeted what they wanted from Sephora for the holidays and the cosmetics company grantedone wish per day. Consumers tweeted more than 50,000 wishes, and Sephora generated more thanUS$1m in sales tied to the offer. Its a clear case of how engaging users on social media can drive sales. But theres more to social media than simply increasing revenue. Retailers are nding more subtleTwitter for us ways to manageand deepencustomer relationships, address customer-service issues, inform productis like an 800decisions, and even track their competitors. Thirty-six percent of survey respondents, for example, say theynumber are using social media as a customer service channel, monitoring Facebook posts, forum comments andGary Wheelhouse, head oftweets for customer complaintsand, importantly, taking steps to address those that are legitimate.social media, Harvey NormanTwitter for us is like an 800 number, says Gary Wheelhouse, head of social media for Australianretailer Harvey Norman. During the 2010 holiday season, Harvey Norman avoided a potential public-relations disaster after a customer complained on Twitter about an offensive radio advertisement(featuring an unfortunate combination of Santa Claus and lap dancing). Mr Wheelhouse saw the tweetand the growing calls for a boycott of Harvey Normans storesand responded quickly to the customer.Less than four hours after the initial complaint, the radio ad was pulled. These types of positive examples are tempered by the horror stories that highlight the inherent risksof social media for retailers and other consumer-oriented companies that arent as attentive as HarveyNorman. Take the case of Dell Hell. A series of posts from a media consultant, Jeff Jarvis, complainingabout poor customer service from Dell, a computer maker, went viral, deating Dells stock price andforcing the company to invest millions in customer service improvements, including social mediamonitoring. (There was a happy ending, however: In 2009, Dell attributed US$6.5m in revenue to itsTwitter promotions.)6 Economist Intelligence Unit Limited 2011
  8. 8. The social shopperHarnessing the disruptive inuence of social media How do retailers nd the proper risk/reward balance with their social media initiatives? Its clear fromthe survey that retailers arent ready to bet their business on social media. Many are still tinkering withthe right mix of activities: 35% of respondents, for example, say they have completed pilots or are stillexperimenting, and an additional 19% say theyll be experimenting within the next year.How would you describe your companys current level of participation on social media sites today?And what will be the level of participation within the next 12 months?Select one for each column.Today Within the next(% respondents)12 monthsWe monitor social media sites but dont actively participate23 13We are in the experimentation stage (eg, we have run a few test campaigns but dont have a full-fledged strategy)23 19We have completed a pilot and are moving to launch stage12 13We have successfully launched multiple social media campaigns with measurable results 25 28Dont know 712None of the above 1115 Source: Economist Intelligence Unit survey, April 2011.7 Economist Intelligence Unit Limited 2011
  9. 9. The social shopperHarnessing the disruptive inuence of social mediaThe 4 Cs of social media successT he dynamic nature of social mediaTwitter has only just celebrated its fth birthdaymakes it difcultto pin down a right and a wrong way for retailers to approach these channels. But we have learnedenough from several pioneers in this space to offer four principles that retailers can follow as they developa social media strategy.1. Consistency. Retailers need policies in place to ensure that their brand promise remains consistentacross all media channels, including social mediaeven if the interactions on Twitter, Facebook and thelike are less formal than traditional media. Some brands have learned this lesson the hard way. Fashiondesigner Kenneth Cole, for example, had to apologise to his companys 12,000-plus Twitter followersWe effectively following an insensitive post linking the Egyptian uprising to the companys new spring collection.monitor these Also this year, Chrysler, a US automaker, faced a backlash from customers after an employee with thechannels 24 hours companys social media agency posted a profanity-laced criticism of drivers in Detroitusing Chryslersa day, 7 days a Twitter account.week. If youre just These missteps underscore why a retailers social media interactions must remain consistent with itsmanning it during overall brand message. Our heritage is how we meet the needs of consumers, says Mr Bonchek. Thatsbusiness hours, where we start with social media: Where are we going with our brand proposition for the customer?youll miss a lot While the brand proposition must remain consistent, retailers must also recognise that differentGary Wheelhouse, Harvey communities have different social dynamics. Similarly, retailers are nding that different social mediaNormanplatforms serve different objectives. Grupo Po de Aucar, a Brazilian retailer, uses Facebook for brandawareness, consumer dialogue and collaboration, while Twitter is utilised for customer service, increasingsales and quick messages promoting the companys brands and values. YouTube drives brand awarenessthrough original content (such as video recipes). Another important element of social media consistency lies in the frequency and timing of a companysinteractions with its customers. In other words, a retailer has to be ready to respond quickly to aconsumers querywhenever it occurs. We effectively monitor these channels 24 hours a day, 7 days aweek, says Mr Wheelhouse of Harvey Norman. If youre just manning it during business hours, youllmiss a lot. After dinner, for example, we tend to get incredible responses from people. If thats what ittakes, then thats what it takes.8 Economist Intelligence Unit Limited 2011
  10. 10. The social shopperHarnessing the disruptive inuence of social media2. Community. Key to success is an understanding that social media are not purely a communicationschannelin which the retailer controls the messagebut are more a community of individuals who sharean interest in a brand, or a product, or a category of products. Some brands that understand this havecreated their own social media communities instead of relying solely on third-party platforms such asFacebook and Twitter. Sears, for example, has launched several communities to engage various segments of consumers.Some are online gathering spots, such as Kmarts StyleSip for teens, Kmart Gamer for video gamers andSears FitStudio for tness-oriented consumers. But the company also is experimenting with new typesof communities that blend face-to-face, digital and social components. The Craftsman Experience, forexample, is a Chicago-based studio that produces web-based programming for home-repair enthusiasts.The shows feature a studio audience that can try out different Craftsman tools. Consumers can also submittheir own project ideas.We have a very loyal core, and a lot of our focus is on serving that core, says Mr Bonchek. TheseIts all aboutcommunities help us to reward our core customers and create unique value.resource Similarly, Sephora launched its own community, called BeautyTalk, as a way to go deeper with a highlyallocation. Ifengaged group of people who want to talk about beauty, says Julie Bornstein, senior vice-president ofyou believe inSephora Direct. A dedicated team runs the site and monitors the discussions taking place there. Since theit, you need tosites launch in October 2010, members have created or participated in more than 200,000 discussions,dedicate people togenerating more than 4m page views. The goal of the community sitealong with the rest of Sephorasitpeople who willsocial media presenceis to deepen the relationship with its customers.live and breathe it Effective engagement means were building trust, learning, teaching, and inspiring, says Msand understand theBornstein. All of our social media activities have elements of that.importance of itJulie Bornstein, Senior vice-president, Sephora Direct 3. Collaboration. Social media channels deliver the most value when they move beyond the customerservice objective and when insights are effectively shared between different departments. We are using chatting with consumers, listening to their opinions and gauging in real-time the successof our campaigns and other activities, says Andrea Dietrich, digital marketing manager for Grupo Po deAucar. Its not one-way talk, but a real conversation. Po de Aucar has used this type of collaborationto improve its customer service as well as its product offerings (see Extending social medias inuence). Collaboration is an important concept to apply internally as well. Many social media projects arelaunched by small groups, usually within marketing. Its important to share the results of these projectsacross the entire organisationin part to ensure brand consistency but also to share insights aboutwhats working (and whats not). At Sears, there are lessons from the Fashion team that can be applied to Lawn and Garden, says MrBonchek. Each category is doing interesting thingsour job is to make sure the lessons are being spreadacross the company.9 Economist Intelligence Unit Limited 2011
  11. 11. The social shopperHarnessing the disruptive inuence of social media Extending social medias inuencemedia insights. Social media channels present new opportunities forretailers to listen inoften in real timeon customer Marketing is still the primary driverand beneciaryconversations about their brand, their stores, their of social media activities at retail companies. Nearly customer service and their products. The next step is seven in ten survey respondents say marketing benetsleveraging these insights to deliver products, store the most from social media information, far ahead of layouts or experiences that resonate with customers. merchandising (12%), store operations (8%) and theSome have already brought this knowledge to bear. supply chain (3%). Grupo Po de Aucar, a Brazilian retailer, launched These numbers are expected to shift, however: 37%a new cereal bar in collaboration with customers of respondents say they are currently exploring ways who made suggestions on avours via Facebook. to incorporate social media insights into product andThe company also responded to a disabled womans merchandising operations and 15% say they have complaints about wheelchair accessibility at a local launched at least one new product based on socialstore by changing the store layout.Building a business 4. Commitment. For many retailers, the biggest challenge with social media is getting people throughoutcase for social the organisationfrom senior management to front-line personnelto buy into the benets. Only 27%media is heavilyof survey respondents have budgets dedicated to social media marketing and only 12% have added one ordependent onmore full-time positions to support social media.having the right Sephora is one retailer that has successfully made the case for more resources. The company has builtmetrics in place to a six-person team responsible for social and mobile media, along with four members of the call centremeasure them. who are dedicated to answering questions and responding to clients through Twitter, Facebook and othersocial media channels. Its all about resource allocation, says Ms Bornstein. If you believe in it, youneed to dedicate people to itpeople who will live and breathe it and understand the importance of it. Building a business case for social media is heavily dependent on having the right metrics in place tomeasure them. Tracking the number of followers or fans is useful, but only if it gives a company someinsight into customer loyalty, customer value, or its brand promise. Theres still much uncertainty aboutwhich social media metrics are most useful, and many retailers admit that their ability to measure socialmedia activities is still lacking. A whopping 84% of survey respondents rate their effectiveness at socialmedia measurement as average or poor. Only 4% say they have advanced metrics in place that can tiesocial media campaigns directly to retail sales.10 Economist Intelligence Unit Limited 2011
  12. 12. The social shopper Harnessing the disruptive inuence of social media Conclusion If there is one key lesson to be learned from retailers early exploration of the social media universe,it would be this: start small, test a lot and adjust quickly. The only way to do this is to test and learn, says Mr Bonchek. You wont win with every investmentits the value of the portfolio that matters, along with the metrics to evaluate it. You have to know what to kill, what to repurpose and what to double down on.When evaluating social media investments, retail executives should ask the following questions: Are we organised to support social media? Retailers will likely need to leverage a mix of internal and external resources to get their social media efforts off the ground. At Sears, part of Mr Boncheks role is looking across the entire business to see where social media efforts can align. He already has a strong commitment from the companys CEO, Louis DAmbrosio, who recognises that social media is much more than a channel: It is a way of thinking about ones business in a social context.While Mr Bonchek comes to Sears as a digital-savvy outsider, Harvey Normans Mr Wheelhouse is gaining support for social media by leveraging his 20 years of experience with the company. I understand the culture of the business, so when I speak internally about the results were getting, people believe me because Im an insider, he says. In a business like ours, thats really important. If you understand the business, you have a head start in promoting social media. Do we have the right policies and safeguards in place? As noted earlier, its critical that policies are established to address how (and which) employees interact on social media platforms. Guidelines should cover the tone (authentic), style (informal) and nature of the information being shared. Some companies encourage all employees to participate on social media networks; others limit participation to specic executives or marketing personnel. If youre using outside service providers to manage pieces of social media campaigns, make sure they also understand and support your policies. How are social media insights being shared across our merchandising, customer service, and store personnel? Social media insights are not useful unless they are actionable. Make sure you have methods in place to route information to the parts of your organisation that are best equipped to act on it. Harvey Norman, for example, has trained its 700 franchise stores to respond to social media or website queries from customers in their locale.11 Economist Intelligence Unit Limited 2011
  13. 13. The social shopper Harnessing the disruptive inuence of social media What social media metrics are most appropriate for our business objectives? Part of the test and learn approach lies in determining which metrics are worth tracking. You can start with engagement metrics such as fans, followers and click-throughs, but at some point you will have to measure how engagement translates into nancial value. If Marketing owns the social media strategy, it should be working closely with Finance to develop metrics that align with business key performance indicators (KPIs).12 Economist Intelligence Unit Limited 2011
  14. 14. Appendix The social shopperSurvey results Harnessing the disruptive inuence of social media Appendix: Survey results Percentages may not add to 100% owing to rounding or the ability of respondents to choose multiple responses. Which of the following digital channels do you use to How would you describe your companys current level of communicate with customers? Select all that apply.participation on social media sites today? And what will be (% respondents) the level of participation within the next 12 months? Select one for each column. Facebook(% respondents)58 Today Within the next Twitter 12 months 35 We monitor social media sites but dont actively participate Enabling of commenting/reviewing in online catalogues 2327 13 YouTube21 We are in the experimentation stage (eg, we have run a few Other test campaigns but dont have a full-fledged strategy)22 23 We do not use digital channels to communicate with our customers1921 We have completed a pilot and are moving to launch stage12 13 We have successfully launched multiple social media Which of the following activities does your company engage in campaigns with measurable results on social media sites? Select all that apply.25 (% respondents) 28 Dont know We promote new/existing merchandise75612 We provide customer service (eg, monitor and address customer enquiries or problems) None of the above36 11 We offer coupons or other purchase incentives1532 We engage in direct dialogue to understand customer sentiment32 We collect competitive information 28 Other 3 We have no active participation 24 How would you describe your companys presence on social media sites such as Twitter or Facebook? Select one choice for each row. (% respondents) We have a branded We advertise on We have no account, tags or athis site presence community Facebook 53 11 35 Twitter 338 59 YouTube 19 11 70 Other 255 7013 Economist Intelligence Unit Limited 2011
  15. 15. Appendix The social shopperSurvey results Harnessing the disruptive inuence of social media What is the primary objective of your companys How do the results of your social media marketing campaigns social media initiatives? compare with other forms of marketing (eg, direct marketing, (% respondents) online/print/broadcast advertising)? (% respondents) Increase brand awareness29 Less effective than traditional marketing Increase customer engagement18 27Just as effective as traditional marketing Expand customer base 1624 More effective than traditional marketing Improve customer/product insights 1211 We expect to be able to answer this question within Improve internal communication and collaborationthe next 12 months, but cannot do so now 3 28 Other We have no plans to compare social media activities 7 to traditional promotional campaigns 8 Dont know 18 What impact has social media had on your companys marketing budget/resources? (% respondents) How have insights garnered from social media channels We have added social media onto existing staff responsibilities influenced product development or merchandising decisions?30 Select all that apply. We have dedicated budget specifically to social media marketing (% respondents)27 We have reallocated budget from other marketing programmes to social mediaWe are currently exploring ways to incorporate social media insights23 into our product and merchandising operations We have added one or more full-time staff positions to support social media 3712 We have added new features to an existing product We are funding social media through research and development (R&D)or products based on social media insights7 17 We have launched a new product or products based on social media insights 15 We are not using social media insights to influence product decisions28 How would you rate your effectiveness at measuring social media initiatives?Dont know 16 (% respondents) Poor - we dont currently measure our social media efforts 39 Average we have basic metrics in placeIn general, to what extent have you been able to monetise (eg, number of fans, followers, views, shares)investments in social media (eg, build measurable outputs45 such as more customers, more sales per customer, less Above average we mine social media for deeper insightscustomer attrition, etc)? (eg, customer sentiment, satisfaction, share of voice)(% respondents)11 Exceptional we have advanced metrics and can tie our social media We are able to conclusively demonstrate monetisation campaigns directly to retail sales (eg, link social media activity to 6 geographic location/promotional activity) We believe that monetisation has occurred, but cannot 4 demonstrate it definitively32 We have no evidence that monetisation has occurred 38 Dont know 2414 Economist Intelligence Unit Limited 2011
  16. 16. Appendix The social shopperSurvey results Harnessing the disruptive inuence of social media Which line of business within your company benefits the most In which country are you personally based? from social media information? (% respondents) (% respondents)United States of America Marketing25 69 Australia Merchandising 8 12 India Store operations7 8United Kingdom Supply chain63 Hong Kong Other 5 7Brazil 4China, Canada, Italy 3Chile, Belgium, Finland, Greece, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, Taiwan 2Argentina, Denmark, Indonesia, Ireland, Malaysia, Portugal, Russia,South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Afghanistan, Austria, Bahrain, Belarus,Colombia, Czech Republic, Ethiopia, Germany, Ghana, Hungary, Israel,Jamaica, Maldives, Panama, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago,Turkey, Venezuela 1In which region are you personally based?(% respondents)Asia-Pacific31North America28Western Europe25Latin America12Middle East and Africa 2Eastern Europe 2What is your industry subsector?(% respondents)Soft line (eg, apparel, clothing)25Hard line (eg, furniture, appliances) 20Grocery18Other3715 Economist Intelligence Unit Limited 2011
  17. 17. Appendix The social shopperSurvey results Harnessing the disruptive inuence of social media What are your companys annual global revenues in US dollars?What are your main functional roles? Select up to three. (% respondents)(% respondents)General management $500m or less 51 43Marketing and sales $500m to $1bn 10 26 $1bn to $5bn11 Strategy and business development 26 $5bn to $10bn 12Customer service $10bn or more 17 22Finance22Operations and production15IT 12Risk8Human resources Which of the following best describes your title?6 (% respondents)Procurement6 Board member Supply-chain management1 6 CEO/President/Managing directorInformation and research216 CFO/Treasurer/ComptrollerLegal 6 3 CIO/Technology directorR&D 3 3 Other C-level executiveOther 6 2 SVP/VP/Director13 Head of business unit 9 Head of department 11 Manager 24 Other 616 Economist Intelligence Unit Limited 2011
  18. 18. Whilst every effort has been taken to verify the accuracy of this information, neither The Economist Intelligence Unit Ltd. nor the sponsors of this report can accept anyCover: iStockphoto responsibility or liability for reliance by any person on this white paper or any of the information, opinions or conclusions set out in the white paper. Economist Intelligence Unit Limited 201117
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