Consumers Lose Consistency From Online To In-Store Practices

When it comes to observing smart in-store fiscal practices, global consumers are talking the talk, but a new report from Nielsen suggests they aren’t walking the walk.

The New York-based global market research firm recently released the results of its Global Survey of Consumer Shopping Behavior. Conducted in August and September of 2012, the study surveyed roughly 29,000 shoppers from Africa, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and North America. 

The report asked participants a series of questions about the due diligence they performed before a purchase. Then, it followed up with questions about their in-store experience. What Nielsen found was that in practice, the online and pre-shopping habits consumers claim to have don’t always transfer to offline, in-store practices.  

Global Pre-Purchase Habits

Nielsen’s data paints a picture of the global pre-purchase buyer largely as a responsible consumer, one who carefully plans purchases and favors brands that have provided favorable experiences in the past. More than 60 percent of global shoppers said they shopped around before purchasing and researched financial products before making a selection. Over 50 percent said they trusted professional recommendations and sampled products before buying.

By region, consumers in the Asia-Pacific region were the most likely to collect information before shopping, with 71 percent reporting this habit. Latin American and Middle East and African shoppers were the second and third most likely, with 66 percent and 65 percent of these shoppers issuing this response, respectively.

Shoppers in North America and Europe were revealed to be more inclined toward impulse buys, as just 51 percent said they conducted research before a purchase. They were also the most likely to report avoiding comparison shopping. Latin American shoppers overwhelmingly went to different outlets before spending, with 82 percent reportedly engaging in this activity.

Interestingly, Latin American shoppers were also less open-minded. Seventy-one percent said they are inclined to have preferred brands before buying. This finding echoes recent research by The Integer Group that found that 68 percent of Hispanic look for familiar name brands on the shelf.

Nielsen also looked at how consumers in these regions were influenced by outside sources during the buying process. Middle Eastern, African and Latin American consumers were most likely to trust recommendations by professions. Asia-Pacific and African consumers were the most likely to report being influenced by another during this process.

North American shoppers were the least likely in both of these categories.

In-Store Purchasing Habits

In the shopping aisle, the data paints a contradictory picture of how consumers spend. While the majority reported researching and collecting information, only 49 percent of global shoppers said they used a shopping list. Similarly, though they were the least likely to collect information before heading to the store, North American and European shoppers were most likely to say they used a shopping list on most trips.

More than 50 percent of Latin America and Asia-Pacific shoppers said they trusted recommendations from professionals. But, Nielsen suggested they might not be following through. Only 28 percent of shoppers in both regions reported using a store promotion leaflet or flyer. Likewise, 47 percent North American consumers said they used these tools during their shopping trips, despite the fact that 35 percent said they did not trust professional recommendations.

Latin American shoppers also engaged in contradictory practices. Though 82 percent said they shopped around before a purchase, only 56 percent compared unit prices in store, a figure that was slightly above the global average of 51 percent.

The data provides different conclusions about shoppers in each region, and how their shopping habits differ in practice. However, global consumers were seemly united in their desire to paint themselves as more responsible in the shopping aisles than research suggests.

To read the full Nielsen report, click here.

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