Friends Play Top Role in Video Gamers' Purchase Decisions

Friends rank as the largest influencing factor in the purchase decisions of video games, according to a study released recently by global integrated communications agency Waggener Edstrom Worldwide, Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism at the University of Southern California, and Harris Interactive. Industry trade groups say the video gaming software industry represented sales of more than $11 billion in 2008, and games were expected to be a hot item for the 2009 holiday season gift-giving. Consumer Spending logo

The study indicated that word-​of-​mouth influence, led by friends, was three times as likely to influence the purchase of video games as traditional forms of advertising and promotion.

The data proved that word of mouth ranked highest of all methods buyers used to make purchase decisions. This was followed by retail, online demos, reviews, and advertising and promotion. When the word-​of-​mouth category was examined further, the data revealed that friends were approximately twice as likely to influence the purchase decision as family members. Friends were also among the most trusted of all forms of purchase influence.

The study also identified a highly influential segment of gamers or "Influence Multipliers." These Influence Multipliers represented 21% of all gamers in the sample, but report an inordinate impact on the purchase decisions of their family and friends when buying video games. Influence Multipliers are veteran video game players, the most networked members of the gaming community, and their friends and family rely on their opinions when buying video games.

"Compared to all video gamers, Influence Multipliers are a hyperinfluential subset of friends who are also far more connected to other gamers," said Dan Gallagher, senior vice president, Insight & Analytics at Waggener Edstrom Worldwide. "As a result, Influence Multipliers have an outsized network influence effect on their gaming colleagues. By targeting the media channels that Influence Multipliers rely on, marketers can optimize their marketing spending."

Study conducted by Waggener Edstrom Worldwide in conjunction with the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism at the University of Southern California, and Harris Interactive, December 16, 2009.  Website: www​.waggeneredstrom​.com.