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Study: Facebook influences holiday shoppers

BY Dan Berthiaume

New York – Facebook had a notable influence on holiday shoppers, especially those using mobile devices. According to a new study from Millward Brown Digital, 83% of 500 consumers surveyed who follow a retailer or consumer product on Facebook found their posts to be somewhat to very valuable when preparing for holiday shopping.

And when the holiday shopping was complete, 89% of shoppers shared their experience on Facebook. At the store, 65% of shoppers accessed their phones for a shopping-related activity; and, while shopping in-store, those people used Facebook at four times the rate of any other app or search. Nearly 60% of shoppers who used Facebook for information and ideas found it to be influential to their shopping experience.

Other notable findings include:

• Nearly two-thirds of shoppers spent less than an hour researching their trip; they typically made a purchase within three days from the start of their research.

• News Feed played a key role in consumer discovery — 46% of people who used Facebook before shopping used it to look for deals, promotions and holiday gift ideas.

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Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage has strong Q1; plans 15 new stores

BY Dan Berthiaume

Lakewood, Colo. — Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage, Inc. had a strong first quarter of fiscal 2014, reporting increases in both net income and net sales. Net income rose 31.6% to $2.9 million from about $2.2 million and net sales grew 25.8% to $120.6 million from $95.8 million.

A $14.6 million increase in sales from new stores and a 10.6%, increase in same-store sales drove Natural Grocers’ net sales growth. Looking ahead, the company plans to open a total 15 stores in fiscal year 2014 and expects to remodel two existing stores.

As of this release, Natural Grocers has signed leases for 10 of the remaining 11 stores it plans to open in fiscal year 2014 for locations in Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Utah, and Washington.

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Shell launches social contest for loyalty members

BY Dan Berthiaume

Houston – Shell has launched “How I FRN,” a contest that invites consumers to submit a photograph or video via Instagram or Twitter that represents the individual’s experience with the Shell Fuel Rewards Network (FRN) loyalty program. Consumers are encouraged to think creatively about how they might be able to demonstrate their experience with and understanding of the program, as Shell will be selecting one weekly winner per week, along with a grand prize winner, first runner-up and second runner-up whose entries best convey the features and benefits of the FRN program.

From Jan. 31 through March 14, FRN members are invited to submit a photograph or video via Instagram or Twitter that represents the individual’s experience with the FRN program. To be eligible for a prize, each entry must be tagged with the official How I FRN Contest hashtag: #HowIFRN, and must also be accompanied by a brief caption describing how the FRN member uses or plans to use the FRN program to save.

"We’re excited to see the creative and cost-effective ways our customers interact with the FRN program," says Jim Perkins, North American marketing alliance manager at Shell. "As we start out the new year Shell knows that saving money is a top priority, and we’re excited to provide the opportunity for drivers to win big just by showing us how they save through the program."

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