June 12, 2010

The Internet has transformed many aspects of life, but perhaps none more so than how we shop for goods and services. While it’s still nice to stop by a store to touch and see products, the convenience of online shopping can’t be beat. And for some services, such as booking travel or buying concert tickets, the ability to do so online has made the process much easier and more efficient.

The Nielsen Company conducted a survey in March 2010 and polled more than 27,000 Internet users in 55 markets from Asia Pacific, Europe, Middle East, North America and South America to look at how consumers shop online: what they intend to buy, how they use various sites, the impact of social media and other factors that come into play when they are trying to decide how to spend their money. What we found was that there are some products bought online that are universal, and others that still have yet to build a significant share of trade. Further, while checking online reviews are popular for some products—particularly consumer electronics and cars—shoppers still trust the recommendations of friends and family most.

One of the great benefits of online shopping is the ability read others’ reviews of a product, be they experts or simply fellow shoppers. These opinions are most important when it comes to purchasing consumer electronics: 57 percent of online respondents consider reviews prior to buying. Reviews on cars (45%) and software (37%) rounded out the top three most important online influences when making a purchase.

Online reviews and peer recommendations also played a key role for shoppers researching future purchases of consumer electronics, cars and travel, and 40 percent of online shoppers indicate they would not even buy electronics without consulting online reviews first.

Pity the product or retailer that consumers don’t like: while most online consumers (59%) said that they are not more likely to share a negative product experience online via Twitter or writing a review, 41 percent would.

For more information at http://www.nielsen.com

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