Sophie Chen
Nov 25, 2013

Word-of-mouth still reigns for consumer-electronics buyers: Text100

ASIA-PACIFIC - Word-of-mouth remains the most influential source of information for Asian consumer-electronics shoppers, two-thirds of whom decide what to purchase before visiting a store or e-commerce site, according to the Text100 Digital Index.

Word-of-mouth remains the top influencer
Word-of-mouth remains the top influencer

More than half of Asian consumers (68 per cent) will do extensive research before making a purchase, so brands need to make consistent and connected, up-to-date information and content available for consumers across multiple platforms.

The study is based on online interviews conducted in October with 2,023 respondents across seven markets: Australia, mainland China, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan.

It looked into three consumer electronics sectors: smart devices and wearable technology; gaming, apps and software; as well as traditional electronics and home appliances.

Word-of-mouth (57 per cent) is the top information resource at the awareness and intent stage for smart devices and wearable technology purchases, followed by media (50 per cent). But the retail outlet plays a larger role once the consumer takes action.

“Building awareness of product is critical for today’s brands and they can only do so by mapping out an integrated, omni-channel communications strategy that’s consistent, credible, and relevant in the content that it offers,” said Anne Costello, Text100’s regional director, Asia-Pacific.

People usually buy gaming, apps and software in the retail outlets, but only after they have the necessary information searched from social-media sites.

On the other hand, retail outlet (43.5 per cent) is still the No.1 destination for information and purchasing of traditional electronics and appliances.

The study pointed out that brands need to invest in providing individually tailored advice and “subject matter expertise” to their audiences.

The findings also showed that compared to the rest of Asia, consumers in China rely less on retail outlets and more on online news, lifestyle and price comparison websites. Meanwhile, Malaysian and Indian consumers prefer social media and online peer recommendations to offline word-of-mouth recommendations.

A majority of respondents (82 per cent) plan to purchase smart devices or wearable technology in the next 12 months. The intention is particularly high in China (90 per cent) and Australia (80 per cent).

More than half of them (55 per cent) are looking to purchase gaming, apps or software, while 47 per cent are planning to buy more traditional electronics or home appliances.

Consumers can make decisions to buy gaming, apps or software within one week, 20 per cent faster than the other two sectors, meaning such brands take less time to inform and convince people to purchase a product than any other consumer-electronics category.

Omni-channel marketing is crucial to engage with young adults, as the 18- to 24-year-olds search more information and topics in the early stages, especially on social-media sites, online web reviews, and price or comparison sites to get information on gaming, apps and software, as well as smart devices and wearable technology, but they still do research in-store for traditional electronic products and appliances.

However, Costello pointed out that many brands still think onmi-channel is about channel, instead of integrating strategy together and telling story across all channels.

Replacing older versions (61 per cent) is the prior reason to buy smart devices and wearable technology, followed by improved functionality (58 per cent) and staying trendy or current (49 per cent).

The top reason to buy gaming, apps and software is the newness (37 per cent), but 18- to 24-year-olds are more likely to buy because of a friend’s recommendation.

The purchase of traditional electronics and home appliances is usually to replace broken ones (47 per cent), followed by purchasing in a style that fits with the home (38 per cent).

Price is still the top information that people (50 per cent) want to find out across all sectors, especially for consumers in Hong Kong and Singapore.

Peer reviews (43 per cent) are important to younger audiences who buy gaming software and apps, but only 36 per cent of all respondents consider customer reviews to be a key topic of influence.

Product specifications are more influential for the purchase of smart devices and wearable technology (56 per cent) than gaming, apps and software (34 per cent) and traditional electronics and home appliances (43 per cent).

“Consumers want to know that what they’re buying will suit their needs and can be trusted – which explains why hard facts and genuine recommendations, not celebrities and paid endorsements, ultimately carry the sale,” said Costello.

The study showed that consumers across all sectors are more concerned about the practical details of consumer electronics, and about seeing and hearing about others’ experiences, than about hearing about celebrities using the devices.

Additionally, consumers tend to share positive experiences (40 per cent) more than their negative ones (33 per cent) with friends and family, or on social media.

The study suggested that brands should take the word-of-mouth feedback into account, instead of judging the impact of their campaigns solely through digital metrics. Also, brands need to place content at the heart of the integrated customer-engagement strategy.

Costello added that consumers want to share good experiences, and brands can provide them more often by taking the effort to talk to their customers, chart different buying personas, and investing in training staff to identify and deliver the most relevant advice for each one’s needs.

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