Irene Sung

Digital Lifestyle consumers in Singapore rely on Internet for product research but prefer to purchase in stores.

A study conducted by USA-based research firm Netpop and commissioned by Google serves to help marketers and advertisers understand the purchasing patterns of Digital Lifestyle Consumers (consumers who purchase consumer electronics, computer or gaming, and entertainment products) in Singapore. Netpop surveyed the purchasing patterns of 1,014 consumers over the age of 18 who had purchased a digital lifestyle product during the previous six months.

7 in 10 digital lifestyle consumers used the Internet when deciding what to buy and where to buy it from. While this is not too surprising given that the Internet is usually the first source for product research these days, the more interesting study findings was that the Internet had the most influence on the decisions in the buying cycle. In fact the top 5 sources of influences are as follows:

Internet = 19%

Friends/family = 17%

Coupon/promotion = 11%

In-store promotional display = 11%

Sales staff at store = 13%

The study also showed that the Internet was more popular than traditional media as a source of information at every step of the product research and purchase process – from interest to evaluation to price/ feature comparisons and even to the final decision on what and where to buy.

Among online sources, local digital lifestyle consumers rely most on search engines, manufacturer websites and customer reviews.

Yet for all the time consumers are spending online, the vast majority of digital lifestyle products are purchased in retail stores and few are purchased online. The study showed that consumers prefer to see, feel and touch the products; place heavy emphasis on good in-store customer service; and are conscious of incurring extra shipping costs.

So what does this mean for marketers?

Even though the majority of purchases take place offline, the influence of the Internet cannot be denied. Yet, according to research from ZenithOptimedia 2007, only 8% of the Asia Pacific’s total advertising spend is devoted to online advertising, whereas 25% of today’s media consumption is online. In Singapore specifically, a study by GroupM showed that only a low 1.6% of total advertising spend is spent online yet other studies have shown that Singaporeans spend an average of 20 hours on the Internet each week. Now more than ever, marketers need to channel a greater portion of their advertising budget to the digital medium to reach their customers.

Another effective strategy is for marketers to tightly integrate their online marketing activities with their offline marketing activities – such as TV, print and radio ads – to maximise retail store sales. For example, it can be as simple as running the same retail promotions on the Internet or offering consumers online discount coupons that can be printed and used at the retail stores or ensuring that the retailer’s online promotions offer maps to show store locations and provide telephone numbers.

By understanding the purchasing pattern and influences of Digital Lifestyle Consumers and effectively using the Internet through-out the entire research and purchasing process, marketers are able to have a greater influence on the final purchasing decision and increase sales in the retail channel.