Online shapes shopper habits

06 February 2012

NEW YORK: The web now plays a more influential role in determining shopping habits than advice from friends and family, according to a multimarket study.

Fleishman-Hillard, the communication network, and Harris Interactive, the research firm, surveyed 4,612 internet users in Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, the UK and US, with 66% of contributors saying the net had an impact on their purchase choices.

This figure stood at 61% for guidance from friends, family and colleagues, and at 51% for email.

Television scored 42% on this metric, beating the 43% for newspapers, direct mail's 37%, and the 28% recorded by both magazines and radio.

When looking for information about products, 89% of interviewees utilised search engines, 60% visited brand websites, 50% accessed user-review platforms and 24% posted a question on a forum.

Some 79% of people polled compared options on the web and 58% received advice via this route. For 68% of respondents, such an approach allowed them to "act with more confidence", the same rating as for saving money.

A further 18% turned to the brand's Facebook page and 14% went to the corresponding feed on Twitter. Another 12% searched Twitter for comments in this area.

In all, the average participant spent 13.7 hours per week using the web, versus 9.8 hours watching television and 4.7 hours on a mobile device.

Upon discussing social media, 42% of the sample "liked" a brand on these services, with the typical member of this group following nine firms or brands, peaking at 14 in the UK, measured against just seven in China.

For the engaged audience, 79% became "fans" to learn more about a brand, 76% were seeking discounts, 73% sought exclusive information and 69% wanted to give positive feedback.

An additional 67% hoped to share opinions, 59% had ideas to submit, 58% wished to "display an affiliation" and 57% liked being part of a community.

Elsewhere, almost two-thirds of interviewees use their phone to look for information about goods, services and destinations on 3-4 days per week, the study revealed.

Data sourced from Fleishman-Hillard; additional content by Warc staff