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Dear retailers: Be wary of how far you tilt your customer service toward social media. Even among millennials, internet users still prefer more old-fashioned types of communication—including digital ones, of course.
The idea of “tried and true” may be a common way of denigrating email as unsexy, but sometimes unsexy works. Principal Financial Group polled US internet users ages 25 to 35 in December 2014 about their preferred communication channels with various institutions. Nearly half said they wanted to communicate with retailers by email, with in person the runner-up at 28%. A paltry 6% wanted to talk to retailers via social, and online chats and text messages were even less popular.
The research indicated that millennials may be more comfortable with electronic communication with retailers than with institutions in other categories—though email was preferred across the board, respondents were more likely to say they expected to talk to financial services firms over the phone, which was fairly unpopular in retail. But the move to digital doesn’t necessarily mean the move to the latest shiny thing. An on-point email game is still a retailer’s best friend.
Email also came in as the No. 2 channel for conducting actual product research in the retail sector, garnering 18% of responses (web search came in first, at 45%). Researching products in person at retail stores was a strong third at 14%, and again, social media lagged.
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