A recent study conducted by Condé Nast and research firm Tapestry found that many fashion and beauty marketers are missing opportunities to use editorial content to influence purchasing decisions.

The study, which surveyed 4,500 national consumers between ages 18 and 64, examined how different factors along the pathway to purchase hold varying levels of influence in prompting a purchase. According to Pamela Drucker Mann, chief revenue and marketing officer at Condé Nast, the aim of the study was to sift through the vast array of touch points — from traditional editorial content and sponsored posts to Instagram influencers and YouTube vloggers — to better understand what drives a person to buy a product.

The findings showed that 79 percent of consumers have already made a decision on a purchase before conducting research and taking subsequent steps to buy it. This contingent of shoppers develops pre-existing brand affinity from a variety of factors that are beyond a marketer’s control, such as their lifestyle, environment and personal background. However, users in this “pre-search” phase are also gleaning insight and gathering information from various media sources that influence favorability.

Developing a better understanding of how consumers consult and gather insight from media sources, in lieu of traditional advertising, can help increase the likelihood of purchase, according to Kevin Thompson, a researcher at Tapestry.

“For most consumers, a purchase decision is really about justifying the idea you had right at the start,” Thompson said in a statement. “It’s imperative that marketers don’t forget the most important part of advertising: telling and supporting the brand story right at the start of the journey – or before the journey even begins. It’s here that you have most influence and, if you can get into the consumer’s mind from the very beginning, you are much more likely to be the one they search for, explore and choose in the end.”

The company also looked within its own portfolio to gauge influence, finding that within the fashion and beauty industries, 92 percent of respondents said they trust Glamour, GQ and Vogue with fashion recommendations, and 90 percent trust Glamour and Allure with beauty-product advice. Drucker Mann said this is indicative of the clout of editorial content in purchasing decisions, as survey respondents indicated they spent the highest percentage of time in pre-search with beauty products, citing purchasing triggers like digital media, video, social media and print publications.

Drucker Mann said ultimately the goal for Condé Nast is to use this information to better approach how it uses its influence to structure sponsored content and guide brand partners in strategic ways to help drive conversions. As users sift through a hefty bevy of online content, “best of” lists that use affiliate marketing may prove to be increasingly lucrative.

“What’s really compelling for us is that not all content is created equal and not all content is as influential as others,” she said. “It’s about recognizing that there’s a whole consumer decision journey — the process is less of a straight line and more like a circle — and examining where consumers are along this path.”