How does social media really impact purchase intent?

This week I have purchased a new laptop, it seems I have got a very good deal, a packard bell with an Intel Core i3 processor, lots of RAM, a big hard drive and light weight for £355!

This was a long and organised purchase, I did my research, I took my time and I got a good deal, so today I sat down and thought: How did social media influence me in that purchasing process?

  • I didn’t read any reviews of the laptop I purchased, I didn’t even google it
  • I listened to the advice of friends (offline) but I didn’t bother to ask anyone on Facebook or Twitter or any other network
  • I read some great reviews about a Lenovo laptop that was a similar spec and £430 but I ignored it
  • I read some great reviews about a HP laptop but ignored them too as it was only a dual core and I wanted an i series processor (offline conversations with friends led me to decide that this was the way to go)

Weird, didn’t even look!

So what else influenced me:

  • Store positioning: Everywhere I went Packard Bell laptops were well positioned in stores and prominently too! I can’t consciously say this influenced me, but I bet it did.
  • Price: PC World’s £50 off when you trade in an old laptop and a 10% off voucher I had for a local store reduced the price of the laptop from £450 to £355, this was the deal breaker
  • Wanting it now: I’m impatient, I could have got a laptop online, but I didn’t find ebuyer or anyone else particularly cheaper than the stores and I wanted it now, not in a week.
  • Offline WOM! This is quite a big one, although I didn’t bother to ask online I had a number of conversations with techy friends and guys in the know to decide on the price range, spec and ultimately make the purchase. It wasn’t what led me to choose this specific laptop, in fact several friends recommended other brands, but it helped me to make my mind up
  • Brand and perceived quality: I quickly ruled out the “cheaper” makes: Advent for example, as I have made that mistake before and, well, you get what you pay for!
  • ATL: I heard about this £50 off in PC World somewhere, I can only assume I absorbed it from some pieces of ATL I picked up somewhere
  • GOOGLE!!! When I did look for reviews or prices or anything else I googled it, easy. This is hugely important for everyone to remember and I have written about it before

Well what didn’t help:

  • Poor service: I hate this and met it everywhere, ultimately the guy who sold me the laptop was good and knew what he was doing, but the overall store experience was poor, I was in there way too long, there was no obvious organisation of laptops by price, brand or anything making it hard to find what I want and the “trade in” process took way too long
  • Social networks: I didn’t even ask!
  • Blogs: When I did use social media I used review sites and forums I found via google, because there are so many different specs of laptop I found it hard to find blog reviews of devices I was interested in, so I gave up

Anyway, that is kind of a brain dump of the process I went through when buying my laptop, it was an interesting exercise for me to really think about what influenced me in my purchase, and something I am going to try and do more often, why? Because ultimately us marketing folk exist to help sell stuff, that is what we do, if we don’t understand why WE buy and analyze what mental processes we undertake as individuals (obviously thinking of the inherent bias therein) then we can’t possibly hope to advise or clients on how to influence that behaviour.

What do you think?

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