SINGAPORE: Social networks have become a crucial part of the purchase journey for many Asians, a survey from Microsoft Advertising and Aegis Media has shown.

A clear majority (59%) of Asian consumers told the pollsters they used online resources prior to making purchases, while just 28% said the same in the US.

Moreover, around four in ten Asian customers said their choices were influenced by social media conversations.

The results of the study reflect general global internet penetration trends.

Data from eMarketer indicate that around 40% of consumers in Asia will be online by 2012, compared to 20% in North America.

And the number of internet users in the Asia-Pacific region grew by 621% between 2000 and 2010.

Richard Dunmall, a vice president at Microsoft Advertising, said: "The use of social media ... allows consumers in Asia to have discussions with each other about the particular products they are thinking of buying.

"There's a level of connectivity and trust in social relationships that plays an important part in the purchase decision cycle. This is more prevalent in Asia than other parts of the world."

A total of 19,000 shoppers in 17 nations were interviewed for the survey.

Data sourced from Microsoft Advertising/Aegis Media; additional content by Warc staff