The relationship between Facebook fans and bottom-line revenue for grocery stores is often assumed, but the link between social engagement and increases in consumers' in-store purchases may be stronger than most marketers imagine, according to a recent study from shopper social media company Collective Bias. This article is copyright 2014 The Best Customer Guide.

The study looked at the purchasing habits of a large regional grocery chain's 600,000+ loyalty card members before and after they became Facebook fans. It found a direct link between social engagement and sales, demonstrating the integral role social media is playing in today's marketing mix.

The full study, entitled 'Social Engagement and its Impact on a Buyer's Purchases', was conducted for Collective Bias by Yeti Data and revealed that a Facebook fan of the studied retailers spent almost 50% more than a non-Facebook fan over time. Interestingly, this has become a stronger trend over the past three years despite the growth of other social marketing options.

Among the study's key findings:

  • Facebook fans who posted 10 or more times on the grocer's Facebook page spent over $1000 more annually than a typical customer, 95% more than a typical customer;
  • Facebook fans who posted 10 or more times on the grocer's Facebook page visited the store 40 more times annually than a typical customer, 2.5 times the visits of a typical customer;
  • Facebook fans bought 125 more items than a typical customer, 35% more than the typical customer.
  • A direct relationship between the length of time a customer is a Facebook fan and the average amount he or she spends each week at the grocer;
  • Facebook fans visited the store 30% more than a typical customer per year;
  • A majority of Facebook fans were female, but male Facebook fans visited the store seven percent more often than female fans.

"We've intuitively known that an omni-channel marketing strategy is the most effective way to increase sales, so this study was carried out to help solve measurability challenges when it comes to social's role in driving sales," explained Bill Sussman, CEO for Collective Bias. "Identifying the link between a strong social programme and bottom-line revenue should help brands to better allocate their marketing budgets."