A Google India survey said that 7 out of 10 of buyers know the exact brand and model they want to buy with the help of online research before entering the store.

This shift in consumers’ behaviour was attributed to easy access to information on the Internet – which has given rise to “research online and shop offline” consumer behaviour.

A pan India offline study conducted by Nielsen on behalf of Google India, to understand the influence of Internet on technology product purchases by buyers in the stores revealed that Internet influences behaviour of buyers across all type of cities and town with 40 per cent respondents saying they took help of online information for purchase decisions for technology products.

The impact was highest for tier-I and tier-II city consumers with 83 per cent respondents saying that they know exactly the brand that they want to buy before they go to the store which highlights the growing reach of Internet which was perceived to be limited to users in metros.

The report also revealed that Internet is now second only to TV to create awareness for tech products - for metro and tier I audience.

The study was conducted across 12 cities in India covering top four metros (Mumbai, NCR, Chennai, Kolkata), four tier I cities (Chandigarh, Pune, Indore, Coimbatore) and four tier II cities (Kanpur, Vadodara, Kochi, Bhubaneshwar) in which, 3,677 respondents were interviewed outside 200 multi-brand and single-brand stores across these cities.

It was conducted between January and October.

Another interesting aspect was the use of mobile phones for online research, with 46 per cent respondents saying that they used mobile internet for research and 22 per cent of tier-II consumers used mobile as the sole device for accessing internet for research.

“The retailers’ ability to influence a buyer's mind is diminishing and companies need to look at engaging buyers online about their products and offerings. Secondly, the Internet is impacting decisions in tier-II cities as well and mobiles are emerging as a strong medium,” Rajan Anandan, Vice-President and Managing Director Sales and Operations Google India said.

He further added, “While the technology vertical is one of the early adopters of digital advertising medium but there is tremendous scope and opportunity for players to fully leverage the digital medium to engage buyers online including mobile - which is growing faster than the PC”.

The respondents also said that they became aware of new products and brands during their online research process, with over 57 per cent respondents changing their mind about the brand/ model they wanted to purchase when they look for information online. While researching online, buyers engaged in looking up prices of the products, followed by surfing product photographs, reading specifications, watching videos, reading product reviews, locating stores (67 per cent) and visiting product comparison sites.

Most of the buyers were between the age of 18 and 35 years.

ronendrasingh.s@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on November 20, 2012)
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