Imagine that you are browsing Instagram, and you see an ad for a product that might interest you. Your first thought might be that the ad targeting is too advanced, but you might still be curious about the product. Where will you look next? The Instagram page, the website, or will you search for online reviews?
These are the questions HubSpot asked more than 600 consumers in its 2023 State of Consumer Trends Survey to find out how people behave after discovering a product they might want. Of course, preferences vary by generation, so we’ll include information by age group.
How do consumers want to learn about products in 2023?
Consumers discover products and their features through various channels and maintain the same preferences as in 2022: browsing the Internet, retail stores, social networks and television ads.
While ads on streaming services and marketing emails are less popular among all generations, breaking down the data by age group shows a different picture.
Generation Z, Millennials, and Generation X differ from Boomers in their preference for learning about products through social media. In contrast, Boomers prefer to search on the Internet. Generation Z and Boomers agree on their interest in word of mouth for product discovery.
SEO is key to product discovery
34 % of consumers prefer to learn about products by searching the Internet, highlighting the importance of optimizing your website for SEO.
It is popular among all age groups, but the generational difference makes it most popular among Generation X and Boomers. However, this does not mean that search engines are dying. Consumers say search engines are still the best way to get information.
Since consumers search the Internet to better understand products and their features, it is also key to know what devices they are using to create the best user experience.
Mobile phones are not only the device of choice for more than 50% of consumers when searching for a question online, but they are also the most used device when shopping online.
Mobile usage is significantly higher for all generations (except Boomers), which means you should optimize your website to be mobile-first.
Retail is still relevant, especially for older generations.
Second, 28% of consumers say they prefer to learn about products in retail stores. Unsurprisingly, the in-person approach is more popular among older age groups. However, it hasn’t gone unnoticed by Generation Z and is still favoured by nearly one in five Millennials.
Social networks are the future of shopping.
In the last three months, 41% of consumers discovered a product on social media. When we break this down by age group, 64% of Gen Z discovered products on social media in the last three months.
63% and 56% of consumers have used Facebook and Instagram, respectively, to make an in-app purchase in the last three months. That’s an increase of +14% for Facebook and +27% for Instagram since January 2023 alone, which only symbolizes a steady growth of social commerce among consumers.
How consumers want to find out about products on social networks
Consumers prefer to discover products on social media through ads or sponsored content, short videos, feed posts and social media marketplaces, with out-of-app purchases tied for third place.
The top preference for ads or sponsored content has remained constant since 2022, but there were two notable year-over-year changes. In 2023, consumers have a greater preference for short-form videos, a +23% YoY percentage increase/change, and influencer marketing saw a +15% YoY increase.
Generationally, influencers remain popular sources of product discovery for Generation Z.
What type of content do consumers want to see from brands on social networks?
44% of consumers say relatable content is the most memorable, followed by content that showcases a brand’s products/services (demos, trailers, etc.) and then fun content.
The top three preferences were the same in 2022 but in different locations. Funny content was the most memorable but saw a 29% year-over-year drop. Relatable content rose to first place with a year-over-year change of +4.7%.
- TV ads are key for Boomers and Generation X. TV ads are key for Baby Boomers, and it’s their second favourite way to discover new products. However, the channel needs to catch up with all other generations.
- Word of mouth is relevant, but Generation Z and Generation X appreciate influencers. 26% of consumers say they prefer to learn about products through word of mouth, and it is among the top 5 channels to learn about the products of each generation. It ranks third for Generation Z and Generation X.
- YouTube ads are key for Generation Z and Millennials. Only 16% of consumers say they prefer to learn about a product and its features through YouTube ads. Still, the video platform is among the top channels for Generation Z and Millennials.