Adrian Peter Tse
Oct 9, 2014

Connected shoppers: Research underscores behaviour gap between China, rest of world

ASIA-PACIFIC - It's well documented that people in Asia, and China in particular, are more attached to the internet and more enamoured with online shopping than their counterparts elsewhere. But fresh research from Geometry Global pins some eye-popping numbers on just how vast those differences are.

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The company conducted nearly 10,000 interviews with internet users in Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Poland, Russia, Spain, UK and USA for its "Connected Shopper" report. As the infographics we've selected attest, China and India exhibit far more versatile and digitally savvy shopping behaviours than the global averages; China in particular is an outlier to an extent that may surprise you even if you have been watching these trends.

Some highlights:

  • 70 per cent of respondents in China and 68 per cent in India strongly agreed that “It is essential for me to have access, all the time, everywhere”—well above the global average of 51 per cent.
  • 94 per cent of respondents in China and 87 per cent in India use mobile/tablet devices while shopping in physical stores. The corresponding percentage is 31 per cent in the UK and 35 per cent in the US.
  • Chinese consumers make 5.9 online purchases per month, compared with a global average of 3.3.
  • China is the only country in the study where the majority (61 per cent) of respondents said they do not visit stores in person. Globally 66 per cent do visit physical stores.
  • 70 per cent of Chinese and 65 per cent of Indian respondents are happy to have ads targeted at them provided that they’re relevant, compared to a global average of 51 per cent.

The report divides the respondents into six categories of online behaviour, ranging from least to most digital-savvy: observers, functionalists, explorers, experimenters, techsters and future forwards. A key insight here is that China has higher percentages of techsters (46.8 per cent) and future forwards (30.6 per cent) than the global average. India is similarly digitally savvy while Brazil has the highest number of future forwards (39.7 per cent).

Although globally, laptops and desktops remain the most popular ways to access the internet, China's penetration of smartphones among internet users stands at 86 per cent—nearly 30 points higher than India (55 per cent), and 50 points higher than Japan (33 per cent), the country with the lowest penetration.

Visiting official brand sites for product information is noticeably more prevalent in China as well, particularly compared with mature markets like the USA, UK and France.

John Goodman, CEO Geometry Global, Asia Pacific, emphasised in a press statement that identifying and understanding the key cultural drivers and barriers in consumer purchasing behaviour is crucial for brand marketers and retailers in today’s rapidly changing shopping landscape. “The path to purchase is complex, as people gather information and opinions in both digital and physical retail spaces," he said. "The connected shopper wants access to all shopping channels—but not all at once; only the right channel at the most convenient time for them.”

Gareth Ellen, Asia-Pacific planning director, added: “Marketers looking for increased sales need to build a better awareness of the browsing and shopping habits of their target consumers and know that these will vary according to geography and product category. For example, in many fast-growing markets, shoppers are online more often, making more online purchases, and integrating digital and physical retail more frequently than consumers in more established markets.”

 

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