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The Top Channels Consumers Use to Learn About Products [New Data]

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The Top Channels Consumers Use to Learn About Products [New Data]

Imagine you’re scrolling through Instagram and see an ad for a product you might be interested in.

While your first thought might be that ad targeting is getting too advanced, you still want to find out more about the product and the company that makes it. So where do you look next?

Are you going straight to their Instagram page, visiting their website, searching for online reviews, or watching a YouTube unboxing video?

These are the questions we asked 1,000 consumers in our 2022 State of Consumer Trends Survey to find out how people behave after discovering a product they might want.

Of course, this will vary drastically by generation, so we’ll include some insights split by age group as we go. You can also check out our full report on consumer shopping habits by generation for more age-specific info.

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How Do Consumers Want to Learn About Products in 2022?

Consumers are learning about products and their features through a wide variety of channels. Among the most popular are searching the web, going to retail stores, TV ads, word of mouth, and online reviews.

how consumers prefer to learn about products

While social media, YouTube ads, unboxing videos, and streaming services are less popular when we look at all generations combined, splitting this up by age group paints a very different picture.

how consumers prefer to learn about productsGen Z, Millennials, and Gen X set themselves apart from Boomers through their preference for learning about products through social media and YouTube ads. Gen Z also favors unboxing videos more than any other generation.

Meanwhile, Gen X and Boomers show a clear preference for learning about products through TV ads and in retail stores. Boomers also favor word of mouth more than any other generation.

But there are also some similarities — learning about products by searching the internet and through online reviews is popular among all generations.

So let’s dive deeper into each of the most popular channels consumers are using to learn about products.

SEO is Key for Product Discovery

36% of consumers prefer to learn about products by searching the internet, highlighting the importance of optimizing your website for SEO.

Searching the internet is the number one way to learn about products among all age groups, except for Gen Z, who prefer to use social media by just 1 percentage point. While online search is extremely popular among all age groups, it progressively gets more favor with each older generation.

which percent  of each generation uses internet to learn about a product

Since we know consumers are searching the web to better understand products and their features, it’s also key to get a sense of which devices they are using to create the best user experience.which device is used most often for search queries

Not only are mobile phones the device of choice for over 50% of consumers when searching up a question online, but they are also the most used device when they shop online.

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which device is used most often when shopping online

Especially when it comes to younger generations, the use of mobile devices for search dwarfs searching on a computer, meaning you should optimize your website to be mobile-first.

search query device by generation

Retail Is Still Relevant, Especially for Older Generations

Coming in second place, 27% of consumers say they prefer to learn about products in retail stores. Unsurprisingly, the in-person approach is most popular among older age groups, though it isn’t completely lost on Gen Z and is still favored by almost one in five Millennials.

TV Ads Are Key for Boomers and Gen X

One in four consumers say TV ads are their preferred way of learning more about a product and its features. TV ads rank in the top three most preferred channels to learn about products for Gen X and Baby Boomers, but lose favor with Gen Z and Millennials who strongly prefer other digital channels like social media.

percent of age groups that use retail stores to learn about products

Word of Mouth Is Relevant, But Gen Z Looks to Influencers Instead

23% of consumers say they prefer to learn about products through word of mouth. Interestingly, word of mouth ranks in the top 5 channels for learning about products for every generation except Gen Z. Our Consumer Shopping Report 2022 even found that Gen Z places more importance on recommendations from influencers than their friends and family.

Online Reviews Are Sought By All Generations

One in five consumers say they prefer to learn about products through online reviews, regardless of generation. Of course, whether they go to YouTube, Amazon reviews, or a dedicated blog to get those insights will depend on their age.

percent of people who want to learn about products through reviews

Social Media Is Key For Gen Z and Millennials

Overall, just 17% of consumers say social media is their preferred channel for learning about products and their features. However, social media comes in at #1 for Gen Z, second for Millennials, and fourth for Gen X.

what percentage of age groups prefer to learn about products on social media

Next, let’s take a look at how consumers want to learn about products on social media.

how consumers learn about products on social media

Feed posts, ads, and stories are the top three formats for learning about products on social media. 36% of consumers want to learn about products through short-form videos like TikToks or Reels, and another 27% prefer to go through influencers, which is especially popular among younger generations.

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how people learn about products from influencers

You might also be wondering what kind of content consumers want to see from brands on social media.

what kind of branded social media is most memorable

Almost half of consumers say funny content is the most memorable, followed by content they can relate to. Making content that showcases your product or service is also highly memorable to 36% of consumers.

YouTube Ads are Key For Gen Z and Millennials

Overall, just 13% of consumers say they prefer learning about a product and its features through YouTube ads, but the video platform ranks among the top channels for Gen Z and Millennials.

Unboxing Videos are a Gen Z Thing

While just 9% of consumers prefer to learn about a product and its features through unboxing videos, they are uniquely popular with Gen Z.

percentage of generations that use unboxing videos to learn about products

Making Sense of Consumer Data

Want to learn more about the latest trends and shopping habits consumers are navigating, and how your brand can leverage them to better meet your targets in 2022?

Check out our consumer shopping report as well as our State of Consumer Trends Report, coming in late July.

In the meantime, see how marketers are navigating 2022 with our State of Marketing Trends Report below.

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MARKETING

3 content challenges and how marketers can overcome them

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How to get the best out of creative talent in a data-driven world

The stakes have never been higher for marketers and agencies to produce striking content efficiently. There are also more challenges than ever to the content production process because the number of channels have increased dramatically.

“[Content] plays a critical role in attracting new customers as well as fostering existing customer relationships,” said Anthony Welgemoed, founder and CEO of creative work software company Ziflow at The MarTech Conference. “It also sets the brand apart from competitors and visually demonstrates a broader purpose or mission. And when brands and agencies produce great creative, it makes an impact.”

Here are three major challenges to content creation and how to overcome them.

1: Scattered feedback

In order to produce content as a team, all hands have to be on deck. With more people involved, however, feedback can come from anywhere and gunk up the content production if the feedback isn’t orderly.

“A fundamental part of our creative process is getting feedback on all our creative assets,” said Welgemoed. “It’s mission critical for us to get fast, relevant, accurate feedback. Without this, we can’t deliver great work, and we certainly can’t deliver that work quickly.” 

He added, “Unfortunately, the process that most teams use to manage all the feedback is broken and often badly broken.”

Solution. Determine a single destination for feedback and establish clear systems of record that welcome feedback.

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“The team should be clear and specific when providing feedback, and the feedback should be precise,” Welgemoed said. “Identify the exact location page or frame of the creative asset and what changes are required. Solving these challenges provides richer feedback to the creator and gives them the autonomy to deliver their best work.”

Read next: We’re implementing DAM! Where do I start?

2: Lack of visibility

Content creators lose valuable time tracking down the feedback mentioned in the previous challenge. This can be due to an overall lack of visibility into the content project and its workflow.

“Increasing visibility and control across asset management may seem overwhelming, but teams can easily improve collaboration with some of these tips,” said Ryan Dunagan, Ziflow’s vice president of marketing.

Solution. Define the project with a summary of what assets the campaign will include.

“Give everyone involved in an overview, including the purpose of the campaign, assets required, the goal [for the campaign], and milestones with the right information,” said Dunagan.

Also, keep the assets organized.

“This one is easier said than done,” Dunagan cautioned. “Don’t let brainstorms and multiple versions get out of control. Organize assets and relevant files while collaborating so the most up-to-date version and historical look [of the assets] are easily accessible. Staying organized will help teams to recall what worked and what didn’t in the future.”

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To increase visibility even further, provide version transparency so team members can see the evolution of a project and what decisions were made along the way.

Finally, appoint a person on the team who will make the final decision about an asset to avoid stalemates and project fatigue.

3: Adapting to change

Buyers’ demands have changed. They look for more content across a larger number of digital channels, plus they require a cohesive experience across these channels. These changing demands, in turn, force marketing teams to produce more content at a higher rate, often with the same number of people on the team, or with a reduction in staff.

“And to compound these challenges, a survey of marketing teams indicated that nearly half of their technology goes unused, which makes reaching the true potential of these tools impossible,” said Welgemoed.

Solution. Map out the creative workflow. Make sure the tools that are used to create assets are integrated in a way that mirrors the creative production process.

“These amazing platforms typically come with really great native integration capabilities,” Welgemoed said. “Teams can maximize business investment while adapting to changes by finding vendors that integrate with where they already are. [Creative teams should] look at existing systems and their available integrations.”

He added, “Connected systems have the added benefit of improving adoption across the organization and ultimately speeding up project delivery.”

These improvements to the creative process will help make the team more adaptable as the content landscape continues to grow more complicated and demanding. Meeting these challenges also sets up the marketing team for success in a remote work environment, when team members are looking to collaborate efficiently using remote, digital tools.

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About The Author

Chris Wood draws on over 15 years of reporting experience as a B2B editor and journalist. At DMN, he served as associate editor, offering original analysis on the evolving marketing tech landscape. He has interviewed leaders in tech and policy, from Canva CEO Melanie Perkins, to former Cisco CEO John Chambers, and Vivek Kundra, appointed by Barack Obama as the country’s first federal CIO. He is especially interested in how new technologies, including voice and blockchain, are disrupting the marketing world as we know it. In 2019, he moderated a panel on “innovation theater” at Fintech Inn, in Vilnius. In addition to his marketing-focused reporting in industry trades like Robotics Trends, Modern Brewery Age and AdNation News, Wood has also written for KIRKUS, and contributes fiction, criticism and poetry to several leading book blogs. He studied English at Fairfield University, and was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. He lives in New York.

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