HONG KONG: Word of mouth, both online and offline, is a key driver of purchase behaviour among mothers in Asia Pacific, a survey has revealed.

Microsoft Advertising partnered with Starcom MediaVest and Synovate and surveyed 3,000 women, all of who were aged 20–49 years old and had at least one child.

This panel was based in eight different markets throughout the region, a list that featured China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Singapore and Malaysia.

Overall, it was found that the average respondent across all of these countries dedicated a total of 17 hours a week to using the internet.

More specifically, 80% of participants argued that "good brands are worth talking about," a perception that reached a peak of 92% in Malaysia and fell to 41% in Japan.

A further 59% of contributors believed that "I can always persuade friends and family to buy the same product or brand," a view held by 72% of the sample in both India and Malaysia.

The importance of word of mouth for this demographic was shown by the fact that 58% agreed their most trusted repository of online information were networks made up of friends, family and colleagues.

Recommendations from these valued sources played a particularly significant role in the early stages of the purchase process, when the strengths of a range of different products were under consideration.

Elsewhere, 46% of mothers trusted consumer reviews posted on the web, while mothers in China often displayed more confidence in opinions gathered from internet forums than those of relatives and friends.

People with younger children generally relied more heavily on discussing issues with other mothers online, without the need of having met them face-to-face.

In contrast, individuals with children aged six years old or above tended to make greater use of search engines and contacted friends and family by email.

Over two-thirds of mothers had bought products from the internet to date, and almost 70% were planning to do so over the course of the coming 12 months.

Buying items for children or family via the web was most widespread in China and Korea, which posted scores of 87% and 82% on this measure in turn.

The benefits offered by e-commerce were said to include a lack of pressure from sales people, which was mentioned by a large number of mothers in Taiwan, and lower prices, cited by their peers in India.

Looking more broadly, most women wanted to be able to locate information about relevant products and services quickly and easily, and in a way which fitted in with their busy lifestyles.

"Mothers are becoming increasingly digital savvy, and conversely, much more cynical to overt advertising," said Kenneth Andrew, Marketing Director, Microsoft Advertising, Greater Asia Pacific.

"Brands need to create relevant online experiences that reach them at the right time with the right message … to reach mothers where they seek information, stay connected, learn about products, and make purchasing decisions." 

Data sourced from Microsoft Advertising; additional content by Warc staff