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Google Search Technology

Asia Pacific consumers prefer shopping offline but digital shapes purchase decisions, finds Google


By Charlotte McEleny, Asia Editor

July 25, 2017 | 3 min read

Consumers in Asia Pacific would prefer to buy offline, according to Google research, but the majority are still conducting research online while in store.


Offline shopping is prefered in APAC but digital is the most important for research

The findings were a highlight from a major piece of research by Google into the purchase behaviours of Asia Pacific consumers across the baby care and personal finance categories.

According to the research, for baby care the majority of consumers in most markets prefered to buy offline. It found this particularly prevalent in India (90%), Vietnam (81%), and the Phillippines (75%). At the other end of the scale, in China and South Korea, however, some 60% and 64% buy online, respectively.

For finance, just two markets had more online buyers; Japan (79%) and Australia (58%), both markets are considered to be digitally advanced in terms of consumer behaviour and brand investment. Overall, in both categories, 70% then researched online while in store.

Google said the report helped show how important search was in the funnel, despite the channel becoming an “accepted” channel, but admitted that the content that they searched for spanned from reviews, to comments from friends to videos.

Speaking to The Drum about the research, Simon Kahn, chief marketing officer for Google in Asia Pacific, the research “shows context with regards to search, which many think of an as accepted thing, yet it continues to be a vital element to purchase decisions."

He added: “Search continues to be fundamental decision behaviour, all the way to path to purchase. It is interesting to see that the companies that are thinking about search as a core element of their engagement strategy will be more successful; not just as one point within the funnel but about how you can use search all the way through the path to purchase.”

Another key finding from the research was about how hard brands need to work to get into a consumer's mind for consideration. According to the report, as a consumer starts thinking about purchasing, they already have multiple brands in mind. For personal finance some 83% already have brands in mind and for baby products it’s slightly less at 69% of people. This means many brands have to be competitive and find a way to become front of mind, particularly if they don’t appear in the initial consideration set of brands.

There is a positive spin, however small, in that some 30% of baby care shoppers and 23% personal finance shoppers are open to new brands.

The final insight drawn from the research was the sheer level of online information needed to inform such purchases. According to Google, consumers in the region “are better informed than ever before” as baby care consumers use 6.4 sources of information on average and financial services consumers use 5.2.

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