According to these findings, 57% start with a search engine. 20% view a brand's site. 18% research at a retailer. 3% use social network sites, and 2% pose a question on Twitter (it's unclear whether Twitter is counted in the social network sites category).
"Consumers rely on search to begin their product searches, while only 5% turn to social media," says Heidi Spector with the Google Retail Team. " Keep this in mind during the upcoming holiday season. Make sure to maximize your branding through social networks, and close on sales through your search campaigns."
I don't think there was ever any question that people are still using search to find products and research buying decisions, but with all of the talk about social the last few years, it's easy to get caught up in all the hype.
That's not to say that social is just a bunch of hype. We've seen time and time again where businesses benefit from their social efforts. While Google clearly has an interest in convincing people that search is still where it's at (while still working to expand its social offerings), there is no question that search should remain a significant part of the online marketing mix.
That said, you still have to consider HOW people are searching. It's not just about the search engines anymore, and even within the search engines, it's no longer just about the "ten blue links", to borrow from overused search industry lingo.
Where do you start the buying process? Are you more apt to go to a search engine or a social network? Let us know.