MUNICH: Social media is exerting a growing impact on German consumers' purchasing decisions but companies are failing to react accordingly, a new study has argued.

The German Social Media Consumer Report, from Roland Berger Strategy Consultants and the University of Münster's Marketing Center, established that, in 2012, social media was as important for purchase decisions as TV ads, traditional direct marketing and public advertising, and was more important than radio.

Advertising expenditure, however, remained tilted towards TV and print.

Traditional websites and social media explained more than 22% of German consumers' purchasing decisions, the study found, but only 12% of corporate adspend was directed to these channels.

And even when businesses do address social media, some 60% of consumers saw little value in the messages they received.

Overall, the report looked at 19 industries, and it found that social media influenced 7.6% of purchases across these sectors on average.

The study also noted the chasm between private and business use of social media. The use of social media is now a mainstream activity for private consumers: the average internet user is registered with three social media platforms and is likely to access two accounts several times a day (only the phone is more widely used for communicating).

Businesses, on the other hand, have been slow to pick up on such services: social media are only used by between 3% and 7% of employees at work.

The report suggested that it will become more expensive for companies to ignore social media channels in the future, and that integrated communication strategies are needed to fully adapt to these new circumstances.

Data sourced from Roland Berger Strategy Consultants; additional content by Warc staff