The Internet is playing an increasing role in the purchasing behavior of Indians, with up to 40 per cent of them going through information online before deciding on what technology products to buy. This was one of the findings of a pan-India study conducted by Nielsen on behalf of Google India to understand the influence of the Internet on technology product purchases. The study was conducted across 12 cities in India, covering the top four metros, four tier-1 cities and four tier-2 cities.
Seven out of 10 buyers know the exact brand and model they want to buy, thanks to online research, says the study, which also notes that the Internet influences the behavior of buyers across cities and towns. "This shift in consumers' behavior was attributed to easy access to Information on the Internet - which has given rise to research online and shop offline consumer behavior," said a Google India release.
As many as 3,677 respondents were interviewed, outside 200 multi-brand and single-brand stores across these cities. While 86 per cent of respondents were male, over 92 per cent were in the 18 to 44 age group.
The impact of the Internet was highest among tier-1 and tier-2 city consumers, with 83 per cent saying they knew the brand they wanted to buy before they went to the store.
The report also revealed that the Internet is now second only to TV in creating awareness for tech products for metro and tier-1 audiences.
"This study brings to light two important facts. First, the Internet as a medium has gone mainstream - not only does it help create awareness and consideration, it also substantially impacts decisions on final purchases, which was traditionally the role of point-of-sale people," says Rajan Anandan, VP & Managing Director, Sales & Operations, Google India. "The retailer's 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-2 cities as well, and mobiles are emerging as a strong medium."
Another interesting aspect was the use of mobile phones for online research, with 46 per cent of respondents saying they used mobile internet services for research and 22 per cent of tier-2 consumers using mobile gadgets as the sole device to access the internet for research.
The study also found that research intensity was higher for high-value products - Rs 7,000 and more for mobile, Rs 30,000-plus for laptops and televisions. Among high-value purchases, laptops (54 per cent) emerged as the most searched product category, followed by mobile phones (39 per cent), digital cameras (38 per cent) and televisions (33 per cent). Most respondents said they visited stores to get the "look and feel" of the product and to check if there were any deals available, negotiate for price, get details of guarantees, and so on.