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2024 consumer behavior trends in focus: New research examines what influences—and what de-influences—today’s purchase decisions

by | Mar 8, 2024 | Public Relations

When it comes to driving purchases and creating loyalty, today’s brands and businesses are well aware that the rules of the game are not as straightforward as they once seemed to be. With an ever-growing multitude of channels, marketing strategies and transaction options—not to mention competitors—many B2C companies might think that the odds are stacked against them these days. But as communicators know, brands need to figure out who their audience is, on which channels they live, and how they like to interact. Sounds easy, right?

New survey research from LA-based public relations and creative agency Society22 PR aims to illuminate the factors that drive consumers towards making purchases from brands. The firm’s 2024 Consumer Buying Habits report, based on its inaugural survey with research partner Censuswide, offers valuable insights spanning from Gen Z through to Baby Boomers, providing critical data and insights that are beneficial for businesses ranging from million-dollar enterprises to single-product startups.

consumer behavior trends

Key findings from the research:

Social media hype impacts younger consumers

Seven in 10 (69 percent) of Gen Z/iGen US consumers say they have bought a product that had social media hype, making TikTok the most influential platform and biggest contributor to social media hype for almost two-thirds of US consumers—which calls for brands to strike a balance between trendy and trustworthy marketing strategies when engaging younger audiences.

De-influencing impacts buying decisions

Over a third of consumers (36 percent) have opted out of purchases due to negative online reviews or influencer criticism—an activity known as de-influencing. This trend, particularly impactful among Gen Z and Millennials (56 percent and 42 percent respectively), stresses the growing power of consumer voices and the importance of brand authenticity.

consumer behavior trends

Search engines reign supreme

Nearly 36 percent of US consumers rely on search engines for the type of product they need, which highlights the significant role of search engine optimization (SEO) in fostering brand awareness.

Traditional media remains influential

Despite the digital revolution, two-thirds (67 percent) of US consumers surveyed say that if they googled a brand and positive news articles came up, they would be more likely to shop with that brand. This underscores the enduring power of traditional media in building trust and credibility.

Generations seek inspiration differently

Younger generations primarily find purchase inspiration on social media platforms like YouTube (37 percent) and TikTok (26 percent), while older demographics turn to traditional avenues like TV advertising (36 percent) and offline sources (35 percent) like friends and family—suggesting the need for brands to tailor their marketing strategies to resonate with the specific media consumption preferences of their target audience.

Search engines reign supreme

Nearly 36 percent of US consumers rely on search engines for the type of product they need, which highlights the significant role of search engine optimization (SEO) in fostering brand awareness.

Traditional media remains influential

Despite the digital revolution, two-thirds (67 percent) of US consumers surveyed say that if they googled a brand and positive news articles came up, they would be more likely to shop with that brand. This underscores the enduring power of traditional media in building trust and credibility.

How to reach your target audience

The research offers actionable recommendations for businesses to effectively reach their target audience:

  • Speak their language: Engage younger demographics through trendy content on relevant social media platforms.
  • Tap into tradition: Utilize trusted channels like TV, radio, and print to connect with older consumers.
  • Build trust, not hype: Embrace transparency and ethical marketing practices to mitigate the impact of de-influencing and foster lasting connections with consumers.

“[This report] is a powerful tool for brands seeking to understand the ever-evolving consumer mindset,” said Danielle Sabrina, founder of Society22 PR, in a news release. “Understanding these key trends and behaviors is essential for any business looking to connect with their audience effectively and drive meaningful engagement.”

Download the full report here.

Society22 and Censuswide surveyed 500 nationally representative US general consumers in February 2024.

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter

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