Online retailers are following under-30s shoppers to social sites like Facebook, MySpace and YouTube. "Generation Y online buyers" participate in Internet activities more than any younger generation, and this influences their online spending habits. The Society for New Communications Research study entitled, "Exploring the Link Between Customer Care and Brand Reputation in the Age of Social Media," confirms the importance that this demographic holds for online rating systems, discussion forums and blogs. These sources of information seem to be divorced from traditional marketing strategies, and therefore have more credibility.
Online buying is developing in such a way that conventional PR and marketing strategies are quickly becoming irrelevant. Shoppers are influenced by social and communications sites when they are looking to buy something. As eMarketer says in "Social Media and Shopping Behavior,"To reach this demographic segment, Web retailers are marketing to them on their own turf." Change in the patterns of influence means more speaking directly to customers, defining new methods of influencing them and their buying habits. The SNCR released another study which offers new recommendations to the PR profession.
Strategies include partnerships with larger sites to create their own networks, such as Instyle.com and ShopStyle.com combining forces. Many online retailers in the United States create profiles on existing social networking sites: Internet Retailer's "Emerging Technology" study shows that of those merchants that are maintaining these pages, 32 percent are on Facebook, 27 percent on MySpace, and 26 percent are on YouTube. Wet Seal, a clothing store for teenage girls, hosted a contest involving Web site visitors posting YouTube videos to win a gift card.
Other merchants have hired marketing consulting that specialize in contemporary methods. L'Occitane USA, a natural beauty and personal care product line, hired Mercent, a Seattle-based company founded by former Amazon members, to strengthen the company's online presence. Mercent Retail networks with marketplaces such as Amazon, Buy.com and others to foster promotion and customer feedback.