The GWI commerce questions looking at researching and buying products have been available since the first release in July 2009. As well as enabling users to trend the data and see how consumer habits have changed over time, they can also be used in combination to understand the consumer’s path to purchase.

Question Context: Understand the consumer’s journey in the purchase cycle

The last “Explore our data” topic focused on the online activities from a brand that are most likely to positively influence a consumer’s purchase consideration. This time, we will be taking a step back and looking at consumers’ research and purchasing preferences from both an online and offline perspective.

The constant increase in the number of choices and options available, both in terms of products and services as well as new technologies and media vehicles, has empowered consumers, enabling them to actively reach out to friends and family, internet blogs, brand websites and more. In short, there have never been more ways to be informed about a purchase and digital (in particular social media) is revolutionising the purchase cycle in all markets and categories.

The way people research and buy products varies considerably from market to market. The Asia Pacific region for example is, as a whole, more likely to research and buy products offline whereas Latin American countries, despite still buying mainly offline tend to research products online before purchasing.

Using This Data

The key aspect in using this data is to get a better understanding of the consumer’s journey, from researching online/offline to buying online/offline and therefore knowing when and how to best reach consumers.

For example, the outputs below provide some key insights into the purchase journey of the European consumer, focusing on “major purchases” (i.e. products with a high market value). However, the same analysis can be done on market by market basis and across specific target audiences and categories.

Key Insights

The data shows that the main products bought over the last 6 months were mobile phones (24% of European internet users) and holidays (44% of European internet users bought holidays abroad or in their own country). The interesting thing is that the majority of people researched and bought holidays online, whereas the majority of mobile phone buyers researched online and then bought offline.

With the exception of holidays, Europeans as a whole still prefer purchasing products offline. This could be because shops are easy to reach, because before purchasing a “big ticket item” consumers want to see it “live” and make sure it lives up to expectations – or perhaps because there are still some concerns around the security of making a payment online among certain segments. It is also a reflection of lower levels of e-commerce adoption in southern and eastern Europe, compared with the UK.

Despite most of the purchasing being undertaken offline it is interesting to see that in most cases over 50% of the research is being done online. This information can enable advertisers to target consumer in a more efficient way, minimising waste.

Finding the data

A combination of questions and calculations were used for this analysis; locations of the questions in the GWI survey and PRO Platform are listed below:

1. Household Purchases

In the Q3 2013 Questionnaire
Q ID. Q91. Please look at the following list of products/services. For each one, please indicate when you last purchased it for your household.

In PRO Platform
Category: eCommerce
Sub Category: Purchase Behaviour and Intention
Question: Major Purchase Involvement
Option Choice: In the past 6 months

2. Online Purchases

In the Q3 2013 Questionnaire
Q ID. Q95. Looking at the list of products and services below, which of the following have you purchased online in the past six months?

In PRO Platform
Category: eCommerce
Sub Category: Online Purchasing & Research
Question: Products Purchased Online

3. Research Online Prior To Purchasing

In the Q3 2013 Questionnaire
Q ID. Q96. Looking again at the list of products and services below, which of the following have you researched online prior to purchasing?

In PRO Platform
Category: eCommerce
Sub Category: Online Purchasing & Research
Question: Products Researched Online

The calculations

  • Purchase Offline in past 6 months = Purchased in past 6 months (Q ID. Q91) minus Purchased online in past 6 months (Q ID. Q95)
  • Researched Offline or no research prior to purchase = Purchased in past 6 months (Q ID. Q91) minus Researched Online prior to purchase (Q ID. Q96)

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