Imagine you’re browsing Instagram and seeing an ad for a product you might be interested in.

While your first thought might be that ad targeting is too advanced, you still want to learn more about the product and the company that makes it. So where to look next?

Did you go directly to their Instagram page, visit their website, search for online reviews, or watch a YouTube unboxing video?

These are the questions we asked 1,000 consumers in our 2022 State of Consumer Trends survey to understand how people behave after discovering a product they might want.

Of course, this will vary by generation, so we’ll include some insights by age group as we go along. You can also check out our full report on consumer shopping habits across generations for more age-specific information.

How do consumers want to know about products in 2022?

Consumers are learning about products and their features through various channels. Among the most popular are web searches, visits to retail stores, TV commercials, word of mouth and online reviews.

How consumers prefer to learn about products

While social media, YouTube ads, unboxing videos, and streaming services are less popular when we consider all age groups together, the breakdown by age group presents a very different picture.

How consumers prefer to learn about productsGen Z, Millennials, and Gen X differentiate themselves from baby boomers by preferring to learn about products through social media and YouTube ads. Gen Z also loves unboxing videos more than any other generation.

At the same time, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers clearly tend to learn about products through TV commercials and retail stores. Baby boomers also prefer word of mouth more than any other generation.

But there are some similarities – finding out about products by searching the internet and online reviews is popular across generations.

So let’s dive into each of the most popular channels consumers use to learn about products.

SEO is the key to product discovery

36% of consumers prefer to search the internet to learn about products, underscoring the importance of optimizing a website for SEO.

Searching the internet is the number one way to learn about products across all age groups, with the exception of Gen Z, who prefer to use social media by just 1 percentage point. While online search is very popular among all age groups, it is gradually gaining favor with each older generation.

How many people in each generation use the internet to learn about products

Understanding the product is also key since we know that consumers are searching the web to better understand the product and its capabilities Which devices do they use to create the best user experience.Which device is most commonly used for search queries

Not only is the mobile phone the device of choice for over 50% of consumers searching for a question online, but it’s also the device they use most when shopping online.

Which device is most commonly used when shopping online

Especially for the younger generation, searching on a mobile device dwarfs searching on a computer, which means you should optimize your website to be mobile-first.

Search for equipment by generation

Retail still matters, especially for older generations

In second place was 27% of consumers who said they would prefer to learn about a product in a retail store. Unsurprisingly, the in-person method is most popular among seniors, although Gen Z isn’t completely lost on it, and is still favored by nearly one in five millennials.

TV commercials are key for baby boomers and Gen Xers

A quarter of consumers say TV advertising is their preferred way to learn more about a product and its features. TV ads ranked among the top three preferred channels for Gen X and Baby Boomers to learn about products, but fell out of favor among Gen Z and Millennials, who preferred other digital channels such as social media.

Percentage of age groups using retail stores to understand products

Word of mouth is relevant, but Gen Z focuses more on influencers

23% of consumers say they prefer to learn about products through word of mouth. Interestingly, every generation except Gen Z is in the top 5 channels to learn about products, word of mouth. Our 2022 Consumer Shopping Report even found that Gen Z values ​​influencer recommendations more than their friends and family.

Generations seek online reviews

One in five consumers said they prefer to learn about products through online reviews, regardless of their generation. Of course, whether they go to YouTube, Amazon reviews, or a dedicated blog to get those insights will depend on their age.

Percentage of people who want to know about a product through reviews

Social media is key for Gen Z and millennials

Overall, only 17% of consumers say social media is their preferred channel for learning about products and their features. However, social media ranks No. 1 for Gen Z, No. 2 for Millennials, and No. 4 for Gen X.

What percentage of age groups would prefer to learn about products on social media

Next, let’s look at how consumers want to learn about products on social media.

How consumers learn about products on social media

Feed posts, ads, and stories are the top three ways to learn about products on social media. 36% of consumers want to learn about products through short videos such as TikToks or Reels, and another 27% prefer to go through influencers, which is especially popular among younger generations.

How people learn about products from influencers

You might also be wondering what kind of content consumers want to see from brands on social media.

What brands of social media are the most memorable

Almost half of consumers say interesting content is the most memorable, followed by content they can relate to. 36% of consumers are also impressed by creating content that showcases your product or service.

YouTube ads are key for Gen Z and millennials

Overall, only 13% of consumers say they prefer YouTube ads to learn about products and their features, but the video platform is one of the channels of choice for Gen Z and millennials.

Unboxing videos are a Gen Z thing

While only 9% of consumers prefer unboxing videos to learn about products and their features, they are very popular among Gen Zers.

Use the unboxing video to understand the generation percentage of the product

Understanding Consumer Data

Want to learn more about the latest trends and shopping habits consumers are browsing, and how your brand can leverage them to better achieve your goals in 2022?

Check out our Consumer Shopping Report and our State of Consumer Trends report to be released in late July.

In the meantime, find out how marketers are navigating 2022 with the Marketing Trends report below.

new call to action