News News

Awards Awards

In the news Press Releases
Press and Media Inquiries

Social Networks Send Buyers into Brick and Mortar Stores, Data Reveals

Vision Critical Analysis Shows Pinterest Leads in Influencing Impulse Purchases

VANCOUVER, British Columbia – June 25, 2013 – Vision Critical, the leading provider of insight community technologies, today released findings that prove social networks help drive both online and offline purchasing. The results show that the top social networks, including Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, drive as much in store purchasing as online purchasing, but that those networks affect purchasing behavior in sharply different ways. Overall, the findings suggest that marketers need to be increasingly aware of the various consumer listening channels that are influencing buying activities, including the growing impact social media has on motivating consumer purchases.

While Facebook beats Twitter and Pinterest in motivating consumers to make purchases offline and online, the vast majority of individuals who purchase an item after sharing or liking it on Facebook or Twitter were already thinking of buying it. In contrast, one in three individuals who buy items they have pinned or liked on Pinterest had not thought of making that purchase until they found the item on Pinterest, demonstrating that Pinterest is most likely to inspire spontaneous purchasing behavior. In both cases, the volume of sales driven from social to store may reassure retailers who worry about losing sales to online competitors.

“’Showrooming’, whereby shoppers use stores to see merchandise in person before buying online is viewed as a huge threat to retailing,” said Alexandra Samuel, vice president of social media at Vision Critical and David Sevitt, vice president of consumer insight at Vision Critical in an article published today in the Harvard Business Review. “While 26 percent of consumers engage regularly in ‘showrooming’, 41 percent browse online and then purchase in stores — a practice we call ‘reverse showrooming’. Instead of feeling threatened by ‘showrooming’, retailers should study their customers’ paths to purchase and use the insights gained to hone their online marketing efforts,” Samuel and Sevitt suggest.

Additional Key Findings:

Pinterest is most helpful, but Facebook still leads

Users of all three platforms see Pinterest as the most helpful in finding interesting items, generating ideas and providing inspiration. Pinterest is also the network where users are more likely to feel overwhelmed. Facebook remains the most popular social network, with three in four users logging on daily.

Purchase categories vary by platform

Different purchase categories prevail on each social network. Users turn to Pinterest for do-it-yourself projects, crafts and food and drinks. On Twitter and Facebook, technology is the product category with the most socially inspired purchases, followed by fashion and beauty. Thirty-four percent of Twitter purchases and 25 percent of Facebook purchases were made after sharing or favoriting a technology item.

All networks influence purchasing

Across all three social networks, at least one-third of consumers who made socially inspired purchases identified social media as where they had discovered the product. Pinterest helped consumers get more information, Twitter helped consumers find out where to buy the item and Facebook alerted consumers to sales.

Facebook users like to comparison shop via mobile

More than half of those who have made online purchases after tweeting, retweeting or favoriting an item on Twitter (about 60 percent) say that they used a mobile device to make all or most of those purchases. Among people who have made online purchases of items they have pinned or Facebooked, about one third say that most or all of those purchases were made via mobile. 

For a complete analysis on study findings and recommendations on how brands can better connect with customers through social media, download the From Social to Sale whitepaper.


From February through June 2013, Vision Critical’s Voice of the Market group surveyed social media users from the U.S., U.K. and Canada ages 18 and over. This research gathered more than 5,900 responses over a series of four online surveys to determine how social media, specifically Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, influence the consumer’s path to purchase. These online surveys are not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact