Tuesday, May 22, 2012

How Friends Influence Our Purchases

When several of your friends show you the same item again and again, do you feel influenced to buy it too? This generation’s purchases, electronic or not, are highly dictated by the circle of friends and connections we have.

Online Media

Digitally, we can say that online social networks play a big part in harnessing the information at hand and making it into relevant product sales.

I have asked several PR agencies about brands going digital. Apparently, the main reason why companies and brands turn to digital media nowadays is because of what we so call “online word of mouth.”

Whether the product is new or the brand just lacks popularity, agencies tap online writers, because they are influencers in their own rights. These writers are usually part of several social networking sites, therefore being able to promote the brand or product to a mass number of people in just one posting.

There are still events for actual product launches, but these one-time ‘parties’ may be forgotten right after the guests step out of the event venue. In addition, not everyone gets to attend events due to various reasons.

On the contrary, having articles and features published online reaches more people in a shorter span of time and in a more dynamic way. Entries posted in the cloud can be referenced repeatedly anywhere, anytime, and can last for a lifetime.

Social Connections

Outside the Internet and computers, our friends are also key influencers in our choice of products and services. Examine your choice of smartphone and mobile network. Most likely, your close friends use the same mobile network on the same brand of smartphone as you do.

Those who communicate together tend to adopt together. I was a loyal Nokia user before I switched to BlackBerry. It wasn’t because I didn’t like the Finnish phone brand anymore. Several of my close friends switched to the Canadian brand specifically for BBM, and so I did too.

When the iPad launched several years ago, I actually didn’t care at all. However, when I started seeing most of the people I look up to like the pastors, doctors, and businessmen carrying their iPad everywhere they go, it appeared to me that this piece of device could be useful to me too. It stirred my curiosity and led me to believe that the iPad is a must-have gadget.

Yes, there are exceptions to the rule, because not everybody conforms according to what the society says. But it’s undeniably true that social variables have a huge influential power in our purchases.

However, social connections aren’t everything. The qualities of whatever items spreading through a network still matters. Indeed, product adoption will spread like wildfire according to its quality, and not just basing wholly on the number of friends who already own it.

How many of your device purchases were influenced by the people around you? Tweet me at @GlennOng.

This article is my 62nd contribution to Manila Bulletin -- one of the Philippines' leading broadsheets -- published on March 12, 2012 (Monday) in the TechNews Section. You can view the PDF version here (middle right portion).

Photo Credit: Google Images


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