Social media not just for social networking

By afaqs! news bureau , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Digital | September 09, 2010
In a study conducted by The Nielsen Company, respondents pointed out that they use social media to take decisions for online shopping

A study called 'Global Online Shopping', conducted by The Nielsen Company, reveals some important facts about the online shopping behaviour of Netizens across the globe. More than 27,000 respondents across 55 countries were interviewed for the study.

According to the study, more than 50 per cent of Indian respondents surveyed agree that they take the help of social media sites to purchase products and services online.

Among the Indian respondents, 71 per cent said that they trust recommendations from family while making an online purchase decision, followed by recommendations from friends (64 per cent respondents) and online product reviews (29 per cent). Online reviews and opinions are most important for respondents, when buying products such as consumer electronics (57 per cent), software (50 per cent), or a car (47 per cent).

"Indians still like first-hand experience for high-involvement products and services that they buy. The traditional one-to-one experience with the salesperson, who clarifies all their doubts, is preferred by many. Since the online medium doesn't allow them this interaction, the closest is recommendation from their family and friends, though this is being largely replaced by expert reviews online," says Karthik Nagarajan, director, online division, The Nielsen Company.

He adds, "There is a silent social media revolution going on in India at the moment, and it is largely mistaken for just social networking. The truth is that discussion boards, forums and review sites are seeing high growth in terms of conversations; and this is where many shopping decisions are being made."

The study further reveals that more than four in 10 Indian respondents say that they are more likely to share (post a review/ tweet/ review) a negative product or service experience online, than a positive experience.

Global Online Shopping points out that more than eight out of 10 Indian respondents plan to shop online in the next 12 months. Also, more than 25 per cent indicate online purchases comprise upwards of 11 per cent of their monthly shopping expenditure.

In the next six months, Indian respondents are most likely to buy books (41 per cent), airline tickets/reservations (40 per cent) and electronic equipment like a TV or camera (36 per cent) online. Other products and services that Indians are inclined to buy online in the next six months include tours/hotel reservations (29 per cent), event tickets (26 per cent), clothing/accessories/shoes (25 per cent), computer hardware (24 per cent), videos/DVDs/games (22 per cent), and music (not downloaded) and computer software (not downloaded) (both 21 per cent).

However, 23 percent of Indians surveyed had never shopped online. "Low internet penetration and lack of confidence in using credit card credentials are the biggest challenges for online shopping in India, though high adoption for online travel sites is changing this. The medium to heavy users have always been quite comfortable buying stuff online," says Nagarajan.

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