Reluctant Shoppers Increase Due Diligence

March 5, 2009

Nearly half of all online shoppers (48%) plan to spend less this year, but a majority of those who are reluctant to make certain purchases (61%) are more apt to be positively influenced by online shopping resources such as consumer reviews, according to a new study from Bazaarvoice and richrelevance, conducted by JupiterResearch.

The survey finds that increasingly cost-conscious consumers who have been affected by the recession are going online more often and earlier in the purchase-decision process for products and services (vs. those who are not planning to reduce their spending), where they seek increased validation for their purchase decisions.

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Due Diligence Increases

Online shoppers expect to be more reluctant to make purchases in the next 12 months primarily in the automotive sector (50%), travel (46%), and consumer electronics (43%), the survey found.

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Consumers looking to reduce their spend are particularly diligent about shopping around – 42% visited three or more sites to research their last purchase – nearly all consumers are spending more time online prior to purchase.

In its 2008 Retail Consumer survey, Jupiter Research found that only 33% of online shoppers had made up their minds about the price they were willing to pay for their purchase in advance of going online to research. Even fewer began their research having made up their minds on which item or title to choose (31%), which brand to buy (23%), which store they would use (16%), or when to make their purchase (13%).

This shift in behavior provides retailers with an opportunity to engage shoppers through content that connects them to products and builds their confidence in these more carefully researched purchases, the survey’s sponsors said.

Following search, and visits to manufacturer and store websites that directly connect consumers with products and services, large numbers of shoppers who research their purchases online look to content sources that help inspire, discover and confirm their choices, including user ratings and reviews (77%), and recommendations based on other consumers’ purchasing or browsing behavior (66% and 65%, respectively).

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“Shoppers trust and use the opinions of others in making choices about products and brands,” said Brett Hurt, founder and CEO of Bazaarvoice. “As consumers head to the web to research online and offline purchases, companies have a tremendous opportunity to provide them with the authentic user-generated content that is proven to build confidence, increase satisfaction, and drive sales.”

“Because there’s no one right way to shop, there’s no one right way to market or merchandise products,” said David Selinger, CEO of richrelevance. “We know that consumers respond to what other shoppers have bought or browsed, especially when recommendations are tailored to be relevant. Personalized recommendations are emerging as must-have functionality for 2009, driven by the value they deliver to the consumer experience.”

The study’s sponsors also suggest that developing presences on consumers shopping content sources provides a good opportunity for developing long-term relationships by addressing consumer needs and concerns.

About the survey: JupiterResearch surveyed more than 800 consumers in the US in November and December 2008.

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