Why Do Consumers Go Online?

November 12, 2014

This article is included in these additional categories:

Asia-Pacific | Digital | Europe & Middle East | Global & Regional | Retail & E-Commerce

ATKearney-Motivations-for-Going-Online-Nov2014There are 4 primary motivations for going online, according to a new A.T. Kearney study: interpersonal connections; self-expression; exploration; and convenience. But the extent to which those factors motivate consumers can differ quite widely across various countries, with few connected consumers in the US, for example, motivated by the potential to express their opinions and be heard.

Overall, 95% of respondents (consumers who go online at least once a week) across the 10 markets studied agreed with statements related to the motivation of exploring new subjects. There was also strong agreement among connected consumers that convenience is a motivator for going online, with this measured along 3 lines:

  • Accessing products and services and making purchases (92%);
  • Flexibly choosing entertainment when it’s wanted (83%); and
  • Finding locations when walking or driving around (82%).

While there wasn’t much variation in agreement with those motivations among the countries studied, the extent to which consumers agreed with other drivers of connectedness did vary. For example, while 94% of respondents in India agreed with questions related to connecting with friends and family as a motivator, just 34% in Japan concurred. Similarly, while 89% in China agreed with questions related to motivations of self-expression, only 30% in Japan feel the same way. (The US also under-indexes the global average in this regard, with just 38% being motivated by self-expression.)

The analysts note that these motivations mean that brands should address consumers’ needs by “building communities, holding conversations, entertaining, and educating consumers.” The results suggest also that the relative weight given to each of these should vary by target country.

Meanwhile, consumers’ motivations translate into how they apportion their time online. In Japan, for example, where few are motivated to go online in order to connect socially, consumers reported spending more time shopping online than social networking. Meanwhile, consumers in China reported spending more time with online entertainment than respondents in other countries; separately, Chinese respondents were more motivated than any others to go online by the ability to flexibly choose their entertainment.

On a separate note, the study finds a strong  – and not entirely unexpected – correlation between age and the influence of social networks on buying decisions. While 32% of of those aged 16-25 said that they frequently base their buying decisions on their social network, only 5% of respondents older than 65 agreed.

About the Data: A.T. Kearney describes its methodology as follows:

“The Connected Consumer Study was conducted in July 2014, and covered 10 countries with 10,000 evenly distributed respondents. We chose nine of the top 10 Internet-using nations in terms of number of Internet users””China, the United States, India, Japan, Brazil, Russia, Germany, Nigeria, and the United Kingdom””plus South Africa (25th globally) to purposefully over-represent the fast-developing African continent. The survey comprised 29 questions; four were customized for market-specific household incomes, education systems, popular social networks, and shopping websites.

The responses were census-representative in every country. Our age distribution focused on younger demographics, with 64 percent of respondents under 45 years old. We achieved an almost even split between men and women and have a census-appropriate representation of income groups in each market…”


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