Is Price Still Really “King” in a World Where Social Media is So Important?


June  14,  2016 by Robin Russo , President in OTC PR & Social Media

I started my communications career in the 80s, when we believed that it took 3 impressions for a consumer to react, which seemed like a lot! How were we going to accomplish that? We were happy to make one impression! Now, with social media and digital so much a part of our daily lives, we’re talking about needing 24 impressions, with so many options and places to cover in order to reach someone And the more expensive the item, the more consumers now want to check with others – opinion shopping, I like to call it. Who hasn’t checked out a review on a TV, car or hotel? But commodities, like groceries and OTCs, they should be price and shelf driven, right? Who has the time and energy to seek out opinions when grocery shopping? Well according to the Integer research group, price may no longer be king, and the opinions of others are not only important for high-ticket items, but even for commodities, like groceries. They are quantifying what RLA has been saying for some time: The rise of social media has made consumers more likely to ask others’ opinions before buying — three times more likely!People are more focused, they make lists and consider their time more valuable (36% up from 21%), wanting to get in and out of the store as fast as possible (I can’t agree more!) with many willing to pay more if it makes their lives easier.

However, this is where we differ: The Integer study says consumers are “still fiercely focused on price,” remaining the top driver of “where they shop.”Furthermore, they add, 45% now say they seek out and use coupons, compared with 36% in 2009.”The study also finds a decided shift away from private labels and toward brand names, as people again have the free time to care more about what other people think.

Common sense tells me these findings contradict each other – and don’t ring true to what we see on social media. You can’t be “fiercely focused on price” but go toward branded names and the opinions of others. How many people do you know who would bother to share an opinion in social media about a commodity item where the recommendation was about price? Rather, the opinions and sharing on social media are about how great this product is because it really worked for them – or didn’t. Or how it saved them a lot of time. Not about how it was $2 cheaper than another brand!

Sorry, if price is still king, then the price better be way better– and the product must work better, smarter, save time, etc. When that happens, you see social media at its best and most valuable. Yes, price still matters, but the crown has been removed if the product doesn’t add value to a consumer’s life. Cheaper isn’t the driver in social media.

Check out http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/268164/smarter-shoppers-social-media-and-convenience-sha.html for more info on the referenced study.