SINGAPORE: Two thirds of Asian electronics purchasers have already decided what they are going to buy before they enter a store or ecommerce site, with offline word of mouth as important as online in the decision-making process, new research has shown.

Text100, the PR consultancy, interviewed 2,023 respondents across Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan for its report, Consumer Electronic Index: Asia-Pacific. It found that 68% of consumers carried out extensive research before buying consumer electronics products in three sectors – smart devices and wearable technology, gaming, apps and software, and traditional electronics and home appliances.

Further, the report said this varied little by age and demonstrated the importance of the 'awareness' stage in the final decision to buy. "Consistent and connected, up-to-date information and content needs to be available to consumers across multiple platforms," it recommended.

The importance of word of mouth was illustrated by the finding that, for smart devices and wearable technology, this was the most important source of influence (57%) in the awareness and intent stages, ahead of media (50%).

This subsequently declined during the action and confidence stages when retail outlets took on a larger role.

Overall, during the awareness stage, online sharing (35%), online specialists (35%) and personal experiences (40%) all ranked highly in all sectors.

Brands could tap into consumers' word of mouth cycles, suggested the report, by investing in individually-tailored advice and 'subject matter expertise' to their audiences.

Consumers in Malaysia and India tended to use social media and online peer recommendations rather than offline word of mouth recommendations, while those in Hong Kong also used online news, review and price comparison sites extensively.

"Building awareness is critical for today's brands and they can only do so by mapping out an integrated omni-channel communications strategy that's consistent, credible and relevant in the content that it offers," Anne Costello, Asia-Pacific director for Text100, told Campaign Asia-Pacific.

The sorts of information consumers were searching for were broadly the same across all sectors, with price, peer reviews and product specifications the most important. Celebrity endorsements were not rated highly, except perhaps with the 18-24 age group looking at smart devices and wearable technology.

"Consumers want to know that what they're buying will suit their needs and can be trusted – which explains why hard facts and genuine recommendations, not celebrities and paid endorsements, ultimately carry the sale," noted Costello.

Data sourced from Text100, Campaign Asia-Pacific; additional content by Warc staff