While consumer activity is beginning to pick up, with retail sales increasing for the tenth consecutive month in April, high food and energy prices have stalled a full-scale recovery in the sector.
However, one of the most important marketing and consumer research tools to have emerged from the recession is social media, as businesses begin to look to the medium to provide first-hand insight on consumer trends.
Of course, no data is more reliable than real-world studies and shopping trends, which can be determined through strategies like mystery shopping, questionnaires and sales data. However, recent research from AOL and Nielsen Online points out how valuable consumers' media preferences can be in determining trends.
The survey found that 93 percent of internet users prefer to use email to share content, followed by social networks with 89 percent and and blogs with 82 percent.
Such data can be instrumental in developing an effective marketing strategy.
"Advertising on relevant media outlets and websites can help marketers reach their target audience and connect with the people with whom consumers are sharing that content," eMarketer reports.