Asian shoppers online more often

Shoppers in emerging Asian markets are online more often and making more purchases according to new research.

And consumers across the globe are mixing the online and offline worlds more and more when they shop and are doing so in different ways and to varying degrees, depending on lifestyle, what they are shopping for, and the country they live in, according to the research paper Connected Shopper, completed by Geometry Global.

Based on interviews in 12 countries across four continents, the study examines the usage, motivations and relevance of the internet to shoppers throughout the so-called Journey to Purchase.

“People across the globe now spend an average of nearly four hours daily using the internet for personal, non-work related reasons. Those in emerging markets spend more time online – such as China (4.3 hours) – compared with those in mature markets,” the research concluded.

More people in fast-growing markets, like China and India, also demonstrate more versatile and digitally-savvy shopping behaviours.

The research underlined the growth of social networking and the increasing role of social media in influencing purchasing trends. It identified six distinct behaviour patterns that shoppers follow, ranging from least to most digital-savvy – observers, functionalists, explorers, experimenters, techsters and future forwards.

The evidence reveals a number of interesting trends and behaviours in emerging markets and Asia in particular:

  • Respondents from China (70 per cent) and India (68 per cent) strongly agreed with the statement: “It is essential for me to have access, all the time, everywhere” – well above the global average (51 per cent).
  • Chinese consumers are far more active in making online purchases (5.9 per month) compared to the global average (3.3).
  • Globally, laptops and desktops are still the most popular ways to access the internet.
  • China has a very high penetration of smartphones among internet users (86 per cent) – nearly 30 points higher than India (55 per cent), and 50 points higher than Japan (33 per cent), the country with the lowest penetration.
  • Visiting official brand sites for product information is noticeably more prevalent in China, particularly compared to mature markets like the US, UK and France.
  • Analysis of usage of mobile/ tablet devices in-store shows big differences between countries – just 31 per cent in the UK and 35 per cent in the US, compared to 94 per cent in China and 87 per cent in India.
  • The majority of shoppers (66 per cent) continue to visit physical stores. However, the trend is reversed in China where the majority of consumers (61 per cent) indicate that do not visit stores in person – this was not observed in any of the other markets in the study.

Commenting on the study, John Goodman, CEO Geometry Global, Asia Pacific emphasised how identifying and understanding the key cultural drivers and barriers in consumer purchasing behaviour is crucial for brand marketers and retailers in today’s rapidly changing shopping landscape.

“The path to purchase is complex, as people gather information and opinions in both digital and physical retail spaces. The connected shopper wants access to all shopping channels – but not all at once; only the right channel at the most convenient time for them.”

Gareth Ellen, regional planning director, Asia Pacific added: “Marketers looking for increased sales need to build a better awareness of the browsing and shopping habits of their target consumers and know that these will vary according to geography and product category. For example, in many fast-growing markets, shoppers are online more often, making more online purchases, and integrating digital and physical retail more frequently than consumers in more established markets.”

This paper is the first in a series highlighting specific findings from Connected Shopper: A global study analyzing how digital is impacting today’s shoppers. A full copy of the report can be downloaded here:

Fieldwork for the study was managed by research house TNS and conducted via online panels using Geometry Global’s Purchase Decision Journey research methodology.

More than 770 interviews (self-administered, CAWI) were completed by Internet users (above the age of 15) in each of the countries (Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Poland, Russia, Spain, UK and USA). A total of 9486 interviews were completed for this comprehensive study.

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