Consumer-generated online media now ties with traditional media for influence when it comes to generating vendor shortlists for technology purchases, according to a new study by Hill & Knowlton The study also finds word of mouth and industry analyst coverage second only to prior personal experiences when it comes to influencing short lists.
Based on interviews with a representative sample of around 400 technology purchase decision-makers in the U.S., U.K. and Canada, the study further reveals the criteria and communications channels that most influence technology purchases, in an economic downturn and indicates how technology will help both C-suite executives and IT managers reduce the cost of travel and energy in the difficult economic times ahead.
"We’re seeing a real shift in how decisions are being made and the dynamics between various channels of influence," says Joshua Reynolds, global technology practice director for Hill & Knowlton. "Now you have to truly reverse-engineer your communications strategy to focus on the specific decision you’re looking to change. That calls for a more integrated approach to influencer marketing, where analog, digital and third-party channels are all working in concert. These findings help us understand how to do just that."
The study found that prior personal experience, word of mouth and industry analysts are the most important sources of information when it comes to short-listing tech vendors. Personal experiences and prior relationships still trump all other communication factors, cited by 58 percent of respondents, with word of mouth and industry analyst coverage tying for a close second at 51 percent
Consumer-generated media online essentially tied with traditional media outlets for influence, cited by 28 percent and 27 percent of respondents, respectively. Advertising (17 percent) and direct marketing (21 percent) were cited as the least important sources of information when it comes to generating short lists.
While 51 percent of respondents said industry analysts most influence the creation of vendor short lists, 27 percent said analysts are most influential in justifying the spending of budget in the first place—a vital role, particularly in a down economy.
The study also shows that blogs are an influential source of information for tech decision makers when creating a short list, comparable with financial analysts and media coverage (28 percent vs. 32 percent and 27 percent, respectively). And more than one-third of those surveyed always (8 percent) or frequently (27 percent) turn to blogs when making business purchase decisions.
In addition, 54 percent of tech decision makers—including 63 percent from the U.S., 43 percent from the U.K. and 42 percent from Canada—say their companies are likely to curtail travel activities in the coming year. Industry trade shows and internal company meetings are expected to see the biggest cuts (40 percent and 38 percent, respectively.) The most likely replacement to business travel is expected to be web conference services such as WebEx, cited by 29 percent of respondents.