New Online Shopping Survey Shows Consumers Are Big On Product Research

It may come as no surprise, but online shoppers have learned a thing or two or three about how to do research before they make a purchase online.

Results of the “Social Shopping Study”, conducted by PowerReviews in association with the e-tailing group, indicate that consumers who shop online are on a mission to get thorough information about products and find the best prices before they buy. One in two survey respondents spent 75 percent of their overall online shopping time researching products, compared to 21 percent in 2010.

When it comes to such purchases as computers and televisions, 71 percent of respondents say they spend a few days or more doing online research. Some respondents claim to spend “a few weeks” (18 percent) on research. Almost half of these online shoppers (44 percent) start with a search engine and look for top search results for the products that interest them.

Amazon gets high scores from consumers as a place for product information, reviews, and price comparisons. Fifty-eight percent of survey respondents say they use reviews and ratings at Amazon as part of their research “all the time” or “very often.” In comparison, just 29 percent say they use Google Shopping to read product reviews, but that’s a good showing for Google’s relatively new service. Sixty-three percent think the reviews and recommendations found at Amazon are “extremely or very credible.” Of those who use their mobile phones for shopping, 36 percent look for competitive pricing on Amazon while they are in a physical store.

One of the more interesting findings is what consumers say about social media. Facebook and Twitter are not highly regarded when it comes to shopping research. In fact, half (49 percent) of respondents says they “never” use social media to research products they want to purchase online. Only 13 percent say a company Facebook page has a significant impact on their buying behavior, while 59 percent of respondents say it is customer reviews of products that influence them, and 42 percent indicate it is customers asking and answering products about questions that influence them.

The survey respondents were pretty evenly split between male and female, with the predominant age group being 35 – 44 (31 percent), followed by 45 – 54 (26 percent) and 25 – 34 (24 percent). Forty-two percent of the respondents said they shopped online several times a month in the past year.

What are the key takeaways?

1. Clearly, online shoppers have discovered how to do research prior to purchase, and they take it seriously.

2. Shoppers seem to rely on Amazon for product reviews and to check prices.

3. Interestingly, Facebook is not there yet as a factor in online purchasing. Given all the hoopla about Facebook, that may be the most telling aspect of this survey.

While there can be no denying that social media has been the Internet darling of late, online shoppers go elsewhere for product information. If product marketers want to use Facebook and Twitter to influence online purchasing behavior, they obviously need to be doing a much better job of it.

About Barry Silverstein

Barry Silverstein is a freelance writer/marketing consultant. In addition to writing for ReveNews, he is a contributing writer to Brandchannel.com, the world’s leading online branding forum. He is the author of three marketing books, The Breakaway Brand (co-author, McGraw-Hill, 2005), Business-to-Business Internet Marketing (Maximum Press, 2003) and Internet Marketing for Technology Companies (Maximum Press, 2003). Barry ran his own Internet and direct marketing agency for twenty years. You can find Barry on Twitter @bdsilv.

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