It may be
time for the new media to boom, but it is still conventional advertising in print and television that influences the Indian consumers' purchase decisions, says an ACNielsen study. Conventional advertising, the most likely purchase influencer overall, is a dominating decision-influencer for Indian consumers specifically, when it comes to investing in very personal items such as holidays (41 per cent), jewellery and watches (35 per cent), fashion (49 per cent) and personal financing, including loans (39 per cent).
In a recent online survey conducted in 41 countries around the world, ACNielsen asked consumers what helped them to arrive at their final decision when it came to purchasing a variety of products. Globally, searching the Internet was the most popular decision-influencer, particularly for purchasing holidays (54 per cent), MP3 players (42 per cent), mobile phones (39 per cent) and loans (29 per cent), with European consumers most in line with this global preference.
Brand reputation was the most popular influencer for almost half of the global Internet population when buying cars (46 per cent) and window shopping was the most preferred when it came to fashion (47 per cent) and jewellery and watches (42 per cent). Prior experience with the same brand was most likely to swing it for four in 10 when choosing a bank.
Word of mouth also acts as a big influencer with Indians, especially when investing in big-ticket items like cars (51 per cent) and choosing financial institutions such as banks (43 per cent).
'When the whole world is going crazy about Internet and mobile marketing, it is interesting to note that it's still conventional advertising and word of mouth campaigns that attract the attention of Indians," says Sarang Panchal, executive director, ACNielsen, South Asia.
"Unlike in the West, Indians come from a very closely knit society, where people get hugely influenced by their peers, relatives and local celebrities. People are more than willing to accept a brand if it's endorsed by their favourite superstar or recommended by their close associates. So, while marketing a product in India, marketers should ensure that they keep their existing customers fully satisfied and they, in turn, will act as their brand ambassadors," explains Panchal.
A not-so-obvious phenomenon in India is that when it comes to electronic gadgets such as mobile phones (53 per cent) and MP3 players (46 per cent), conventional advertising doesn't play a major role in influencing purchase decisions; instead, it is brand reputation that acts as an important influencing factor.
"This is an interesting revelation of consumer behaviour and, together with the differences in purchase influences in other parts of the world, it once again reminds marketers of the importance of market segmentation and that one strategy doesn't fit all," says Panchal.
In the US, previous experience was the strongest influencer overall and particularly when it came to buying cars (49 per cent), choosing banks (46 per cent), and purchasing mobile phones (39 per cent) and loans (35 per cent). Word of mouth is a priority when buying weight loss products and mobile phones.
"This again differentiates American consumers most distinctly from those in the Asia Pacific, where prior experience is not as important a consideration for most purchase decisions," says Panchal. "The purchase influencers reflect the development of the markets and the history a consumer may have had with a particular brand or service provider. In less developed markets, for example, there may be little or no previous experience, so previous experience becomes redundant as an influencer."
Window shopping was the most important decision influencer when it came to fashion, in particular for Europeans, with 56 per cent preferring some good old fashioned retail therapy, compared to a global average of 47 per cent. Forty-four per cent of Americans and 42 per cent of people in the Asia Pacific also consider window shopping as a key influencing factor while shopping for clothes.
"People rely strongly on visual presentation when selecting fashion and jewellery and watches. This would suggest that these purchases are less likely than average to be researched and more likely to be spontaneous. Advertising and Brand were the second and third ranked influencers globally," adds Panchal.
For the record, the ACNielsen Online Consumer Confidence and Opinion Survey is a half-yearly survey aiming at gauging current confidence levels, spending habits/ intentions and current major concerns of consumers across the globe. The ACNielsen Consumer Confidence Index is developed based on consumers' confidence in the job market, the status of their personal finance and their readiness to spend.
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