Young Consumers Influenced by Online Resources

Young and highly educated consumers say online information sources influence their buying decisions at a markedly higher rate than the rest of the population. A survey conducted by Opinion Research Corporation and sponsored by ARAnet asked consumers the relative importance of 14 information sources when deciding which goods and services to buy. 

Personal advice from friends or family members was by far the most influential source, followed by TV broadcasts and search engines. 

“The eyes of young people 18 to 34 and the most highly educated Americans are looking online – search engines, online articles, online ads, email offers and social media — to a degree that is head and shoulders above the average citizen,” says Scott Severson, president of survey sponsor ARAnet. 

Consumers in the 25-to-34 age range expressed strong preference for: 

  • Search engines, 50 percent vs. 39 percent for all respondents
  • Online articles, 39 percent vs. 28 percent for all respondents
  • Emails from retailers or manufacturers, 32 percent vs. 20 percent for all respondents
  • Online ads, 30 percent vs. 19 percent for all respondents
  • Social media, 31 percent vs. 18 percent for all respondents.

For people making $75,000 or more, search engines are preferred by 49 percent vs. 39 percent for all respondents – a signal that high-income consumers are also following the trend to online sources.

These results are based on 1,029 interviews conducted by Opinion Research Corporation online from January 7-8, 2010 among a demographically representative U.S. sample of adults 18 years of age or older. Respondents for this survey were selected among those who have volunteered to participate in online surveys.

The question was: “How important are the following information sources to you when you’re deciding which goods and services to buy? Please rate the information sources below from 1 to 5 where 1 is NOT influential at all, and 5 is VERY influential in your decisions.”