updated 2/7/2011 9:17:04 AM ET 2011-02-07T14:17:04

BOSTON, Feb. 7, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- AMP Agency, a full service digital and experiential marketing agency, today released findings from "Inside the Buy", a national survey of consumers between the ages 25-49 conducted to explore the digital behaviors behind modern consumers' path to purchase for both online and offline purchases. The study delved into digital behaviors in five leading consumer categories: baby products, consumer electronics, food and beverage, health and beauty, and fashion.  

The study unearthed valuable findings showing that today's digital minded consumers display savvy and discerning behaviors when it comes to their final purchase decisions, with an apparent shift in the path to purchase. The new consumer experience has widened the scope of purchase possibilities and has powered the influence of the people, which appears to have shifted consumers' mindset and redefined contemporary brand loyalty. 

"AMP Agency's research study, "Inside the Buy", reveals that consumers are placing new value on the consideration stage within the purchase journey and are actively, and overwhelmingly, seeking out information through digital channels in order to make the best buying decision, whether online or offline," stated Allison Marsh, VP of Consumer Insights at AMP Agency.

Contemporary Loyalty

According to the "Inside the Buy" study, only 3% of consumers say they are loyal to a particular brand and never buy anything else, leaving a whopping 97% of consumers who expressed a lack of brand loyalty and apparent willingness to consider brand choices.

Ms. Marsh added, "New consumer behavior is redefining what we view as 'contemporary loyalty'. With more information, consumers have seized control and are more open to the wide choices in the marketplace."

Knowledge = Power

It's a wide, wide, digital world and consumers are leveraging the vast online landscape to their advantage. Information has put the consumer more in control of their decision than ever before, and, with more knowledge behind "their buy", consumers appear armed with the confidence to expand their shopping net. 

Overall, an average of 43% of consumers report doing some type of research before they buy. Breaking it down by category, more consumers research consumer electronics before purchasing, with 64% reporting they do so; a number that is more than half the research consideration of the health and beauty category (31%). The baby products category falls just under consumer electronics, with 44% stating they do some type of research. Close to one in four consumers report doing some type of research before making a decision in both the fashion and food and beverage categories.   

"Inside the Buy" revealed interesting gender gaps when it comes to doing research. It appears men are spending significantly more time doing pre-research when it comes to their "look". Forty six (46%) of men reported that they always research fashion purchases, vs. 32% for females. For the health and beauty category, 37% of male respondents said they always research products, while one in four (25%) of females stated the same. 

The "Inside the Buy" study also found that consumers' online research greatly influences their purchase behavior. A whopping 94% of consumers said that research positively influenced their decision to make a purchase, and nearly four in ten (36%) said they bought a product because of the research they found.

Interestingly, while the web appears to offer an endless wealth of information and opinion, the study found that almost 30% of consumers stated they cannot find enough of the information they are looking for. The findings seem to show that consumers want more information, with a small group -- just 4% -- stating they felt overwhelmed by the amount of research available to them in a particular category.

"Not only was the unit on sale for $60 less, it was highly rated and recommended with over 500 user reviews and 4.5 out of 5 stars. That's all I needed to be sold on this device."

  – Survey participant, Ronald S. - age 30

Where To?

The enormous amount of information available online has enabled consumers to become smart and savvy shoppers and they now look to the web as their primary source for information. The web has become a reliable and trusted source where consumers feel they can find a wealth of objective opinion.

So, where are they surfing most often? The survey found that almost half (47%) of consumers look to a brand website for pre-purchase research, while 46% report visiting a retailer's website first. Websites dedicated to reviews and social media sites come close, with forty percent (40%) of consumers stated they visited sites dedicated to reviews and 38% doing research on social media websites. Blogs fell below, with just 18% of consumers reporting.

"The most important part of the ideal website I'd create would be ease of navigation ... I need to be able to find everything I'm looking for as easily as I would in a carefully laid out electronics store." Survey participant, Richard D. – age 44

Power of the People

The time where relationships existed solely between the consumer and the brand seems to have passed. Today, relationships have expanded to include brands, consumers, and the relationship with the masses through the explosion of readily available online information.

Consumers are most interested in what other consumers have to say. In fact, 72% of respondents stated they turn most to general consumer reviews when it comes to seeking information on product performance – that's close to twice the importance they place on expert "durability" or "functionality" reviews, which came in at 42%. Only 22% reported specifically seeking out information about the quality of the product.

When it comes to purchase decisions, consumer opinion and influence of peers prove to be strong factors as well. More than half of respondents (52%) stated online consumer reviews most influenced their purchase. Forty-one percent (41%) said feedback from a friend was important, and 37% were influenced by the number of positive reviews they read online.

Interestingly, while close to one in four factored positive reviews in making a purchase decision, only 17% stated the number of negative reviews had an effect.

Time is Valuable

The consumer path to purchase has shifted and, with this change in behavior, potential buyers are spending more time in the consideration phase.

The study found that close to one in four (36%) consumers spent at least a few days researching a product, while one-quarter of consumers (24%) spent less than one day conducting an online search.

Overall, most consumers say they conduct some research before purchasing a product, with only 2% stating they usually make their purchases on the spot. In today's environment, spontaneity appears to be reserved for the restless shopper.

Half of respondents report that they are combing the web to find the best value. Fifty percent (50%) stated they do research to find the best deal before making a purchase.

"By identifying the steps involved in the consideration process, we found that consumers are being strongly influenced by information and opinions shared online," continued Ms. Marsh. "This new path to purchase, with distinct opportunities for brands to effect purchase consideration, has become an everyday part of consumers' behavior."

"The 'Inside the Buy' study provides quantifiable data about what types of information consumers are seeking, what information sources they turn to first, and what ultimately influences them to make a purchase."

To download the "Inside the Buy" white paper, please visit: www.ampagency.com/insidethebuy.

Research Methodology

AMP Agency's "Inside the Buy" surveyed a total of 865 consumers, both male and female. AMP Agency engaged respondents in one of three ways: an Online Survey, the Ready, Search, Shop Private Social Network, or through Virtual Eye-Over-the-Shoulder Website Exploratories.

Consumers who participated in the Ready, Search, Shop private social network were asked to create a profile and join a network populated with only members participating in the "Inside the Buy" study. Each completed various projective exercises, posted numerous blog entries regarding their purchase habits, and completed an online shopping simulation activity.

Over the Shoulder Website Exploratory respondents completed a series of questions leading up to their shopping simulation exercise. Their experiences were recorded as they "shopped" using the web as their primary information source.

About AMP Agency

AMP Agency ( www.ampagency.com ) is a full-service marketing agency that combines strategic planning, compelling creative, innovative execution, and measurable results to help our clients' success and marketing dollars exceed the traditional. Whether it's inside the home, out on the road, or across the digital space, AMP connects clients with their target audience by designing brand experiences that are built where consumers live.

The AMP Agency logo is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=6433

         Jodi Smith/jsmith@alloymarketing.com
         VP, Public Relations
         AMP Agency

© Copyright 2012, GlobeNewswire, Inc. All Rights Reserved


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