The e-commerce market is growing year by year. The 43% of the Internet users, i.e. 15M of Italian people, say that they make online purchases (source: Rapporto Censis-Ucsi sulla Comunicazione): to save money (37%), for convenience (33%), simplicity (19,8%), to get information about products (12,8%) or to have fun (7%). The informational society affects on the consumer decision-making process, product and service evaluation, not only for online purchases but also offline shopping.
Seth Godin, best selling author and businessman, founder of Yoyodyne (acquired by Yahoo!), used the term “Permission Marketing” to identify new type of the communication strategies.
He presumed a new relationship between a consumer and a company (he described it on his official blog). One of the key drivers of “Permission Marketing”, in addition to the scarcity of attention, is the extraordinarily low cost of delivering it to people who want to hear from you.
Five years later Wired editor-in-chief, Chris Anderson, created the well-known long tail theory that says we are all the new taste-makers. The word-of-mouth is the new kind of communication that takes place in blogs and customers’ reviews.
The 6 stages of consumer buying decision process
The purchase is only the visible part of more complex decision-making process that is created by a consumer (for each buying decision he makes). We can identify 6 different stages:
1) Need/problem recognition
2) Information search
3) Trust construction
4) Alternative evaluation
5) Buying decision
6) Post-buying decision
A lot of factors lead a consumer to search online for information he needs. According to Henry Assael (Consumer Behavior: A Strategic Approach) there are:
1) Consumer engagement
2) Perceived risk
3) Uncertainty about a product
4) Lack of product information
5) Clear goals
6) Time for choosing
7) Higher price
8) Product variety
9) Low cost in the search of information
The online information research process
The 63,5% of Italian population uses Internet in order to get information about particular products (source: Rapporto annuale 2014 del Censis). Ten years ago, the Anee/Assiforma observatory introduced the concept of “Info-Commerce” to underline how the online research process affects on the online and offline buying decision (63,1% of interviewed users). For the first time, someone admitted that the Internet affects not only on the online transactions but also the offline buying decisions. A new consumer profile appared and the Internet has started to be considered as the new place for making effective business. A lot of studies came after that, like The Multi-Channel Shopping Transformation Study, underlining how the offline sales driven by the online information research are growing up faster than the online ones. While the 19% of users start their buying process from retail to end with the online purchase, the 37% of users collect information online for making their purchase in a shop.
As result, online content became the most effective tool for promoting products and brands.
The web has became the most reliable source of information according to the Netcomm/Eurisko study. They asked people:
In you buying decision, which of the following online/offline information sources did you use?!
20,5% of respondents have pointed the web as the primary source of information.
This post is also available in: Italian