Member Exclusive   //   June 15, 2022

Modern Retail x Attest Research: 3 charts that shed light on how shoppers are discovering brands online

This story is part of an editorial research partnership with Attest.

Shopping patterns changed during the pandemic, or so the story goes. E-commerce penetration rose, more people became comfortable buying things online sight unseen — and all of this has made for a new online consumer paradigm.

According to a recent survey from Modern Retail and consumer research platform Attest, some digital shopping patterns haven’t changed entirely. Finding out about new products through some of the most tried-and-true methods, like doing a Google search, remain the most popular, according to the 2,000 people surveyed.

In this survey, Modern Retail and Attest asked U.S.-based shoppers about their shopping patterns. This included whether they buy products online via new methods like livestream shopping as well as how they interact with digital social spaces as they relate to making purchases.

One of the big issues facing brands these days is online discovery. Many companies are available on Amazon, but more often than not shoppers turn to the platform for intent-driven purchases. Companies have yet to figure out how best to facilitate more organic product discovery in a digital space.

According to the survey, some of the oldest methods remain the most popular — 58% of respondents said they mainly discover products online via search engines. Coming in second was social media with 42%, followed by a recommendation by friends of family at 36%. Perhaps more interestingly is the fact that product review websites — which are becoming more and more popular of late — came in fourth with 33%.

This comes as brands continue to try and find ways to stand out online. Many digital marketers have been putting increased focus on getting placements in gift guides. Others have been focusing on getting into curated websites like Thingtesting or The Fascination. As retail consultant Rebekah Kondrat previously told Modern Retail, “the uphill battle for DTC brands is simple discovery, brand affinity and brand awareness.”

Figuring out the best way to catch a shopper’s eye ladders up to consumer trust. Shoppers are still trying to figure out the most trustworthy way to find out about products online. With that in mind, Modern Retail and Attest ask the respondents to rank various sources for who they found most persuasive to drive a sale.

One of the least trusted sources, it turns out, is celebrities; 38% listed A-listers last in terms of persuasiveness. Meanwhile, a personal recommendation came in first place, which isn’t terribly shocking. What is potentially surprising, however, is that 32% of respondents said that brands were the most persuasive voice when it comes to making a purchase.

But even with brands being considered a powerful force, many consumers are hesitant to follow them on their favorite apps. In the survey Modern Retail and Attest asked the shoppers to list how many brand social media accounts they follow and 30% said they didn’t follow any. Coming in second and third were 1-3 accounts and 3-5 accounts, which came in at 24% and 28% respectively.

Put together, the findings give a glimpse into the way shoppers think about online shopping and product discovery. While many think brands are more persuasive than celebrities at driving a purchase, older methods of discovery like personal recommendations and Google searches remain the most trusted.

But as more platforms aimed at discovery continue to grow, online shopping patterns may continue to shift.