Social Influence Increases as Television Influence Decreases

Team frank

Move over television. Social is coming for you.

When it comes to influencing consumer behavior in the U.S., television advertising is experiencing a decrease while social chatter is gaining ground. In a report released last fall, market research group CivicScience found that over the past two years fewer adults are citing TV ads as a major influence on their decisions on what to buy, where to eat and what shows to watch. In fall 2013, more than half of respondents (55%) said that television ads were their primary influence when it came to purchasing decisions. Since then, television’s influence has dropped to 43%.

Meanwhile, social is rising to fill the gap. While only 33% of respondents cited comments and recommendations from others on social media as their primarily influence on consumer decisions in fall 2013, one year later that number has risen to 43% of respondents – putting social influence neck-and-neck with that of TV ads.


It’s not surprising that social influence is accounting for more and more of the U.S. public’s purchasing decisions. Word-of-mouth recommendations have always been the best way to sell a product; we are more likely to purchase a product or try a service if we know that others have had a positive experience. And with more and more U.S. adults using social media (71% of adult Internet users are on Facebook), it’s easier than ever to get recommendations via social networks.

The rise of the smart phone and second screen viewing has also likely played a role. During the time period CivicScience was conducting their survey, smart phone ownership grew from 53% of U.S. adults to 67% of U.S. Tablet ownership also saw major growth during this time period, from 32% to 52% of all U.S. adults.

Through the rise of TV on-demand, DVR and watching TV online, it’s also likely that fewer consumers are even seeing live television advertising.


Although the data can be somewhat discouraging, it doesn’t need to be alarming. Before you reconsider your marketing approach, consider where your target audience is, as the demographics for each of these groups is divided along fairly traditional lines. About 65% of adults who reported TV ads as their primary influence are 45 and older, prefer to shop in store and communicate mostly by phone. Not surprisingly, those influenced most by social media chatter typically fall into a younger age range and are more digital driven. Around 58% of those in the 18-29 age range report social media chatter as their top influencer. Those in the social-influenced group prefer watching TV on DVR, communicate more via texting and openly admit to being “addicted to digital devices.”

If you’re interested in adding more social-friendly strategy to your overall marketing plan, we can help! Contact our full-service advertising agency in Kansas to learn more about our social media services.

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