Amazon may be the undisputed king of online shopping, but big spenders prefer Facebook and YouTube, study says

Amazon may be an online shopping juggernaut, but people's purchasing habits on the platform differ drastically depending on how much they spend, found a new study by ClickZ and WPP agency Catalyst.

While low and medium spenders – those who spend $100 to $100 per month and and those who spend $2,500 per month, respectively – prefer Amazon over any other shopping channel, the case is different for more affluent shoppers.

Among respondents who said they spent more than $2,500 per month online, 40% said they were more likely to shop through social media platforms than e-commerce platforms like Amazon (21%), according to the report, titled "Know Your Audience: Understanding Today's Online Shoppers." Search, voice and visual platforms like Google, Pinterest and even Cortana made up the rest. Correspondingly, 73% of low spenders and 48% of medium spenders said they preferred e-commerce platforms.

The high spenders said they narrowly preferred buying through Facebook (8%) and YouTube (8%) over Amazon (7%), while Instagram and Twitter tied with Amazon at 7% each. Amazon was the top choice among low and medium spenders, with 39% and 21% of respondents making their purchases on it.

Catalyst/ClickZ

Catalyst/ClickZ

"The most surprising result was that people actually purchase directly through YouTube," Kerry Curran, managing partner at Catalyst, told Business Insider. "Most brands think of YouTube as an awareness channel, but as YouTube has increased its ad targeting capabilities, it has managed to shorten the path to purchase."

Further, high spenders were also more likely to use search engines to research a product after discovering it on social media, the study found — providing an opening for the likes of Microsoft, which has been trying to get more competitive for the share of e-commerce advertising budgets going to Amazon.

Still, Amazon remains an e-commerce and increasingly advertising juggernaut. It reported $70 billion in revenue in its third-quarter earnings on Thursday, up 24% from the year-ago period. Its "other" category, mostly comprised of its ad business, also jumped 123% to $2.5 billion in revenue.

Plus, people are using Amazon not just for shopping but discovery and research, through its research engine, which gets people to go from consideration to purchase, Curran said.

Catalyst/ClickZ

More than 75% of the study's respondents said they used Amazon for brand discovery and product purchase. Almost 64% said they used it for product research, regardless of the channel they discovered the item through.

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