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Online Consumer Behavior Shifts in a Challenging Economic Climate

Consumers change their mindsets from “cutting back” to “spending cautiously”

PriceGrabber.com, a part of Experian, examines the shifts in consumer spending during this economic downturn in its latest Consumer Behavior Report. Results are based on a survey of 4,239 online consumers conducted from Feb. 10, 2009, to March 9, 2009. Survey data reveals that online consumers have shifted from cutting back to price-conscious spending and also are using the Internet to find the best deals.

Consumers cut back to price-conscious spending
In PriceGrabber.com’s March 2009 survey, 50 percent of consumers indicated that they have made recent efforts to cut back because of the weakening U.S. economy. This represents a decrease from a similar survey conducted in October 2008, where 59 percent of all consumers surveyed answered the same question affirmatively. While some consumers are less concerned about cutting back, the majority of consumers remain focused on spending smarter online.

Recession drives consumers online
Survey data showed that online consumers spent more time online and used the Internet to research their purchases. One in four online consumers revealed that the recession caused them to spend more time online. Ninety-four percent of online consumers used the Internet to compare prices, 67 percent searched for coupons, and 52 percent visited social networks. Ninety-one percent of survey respondents indicated that they felt more confident about their product purchases after researching online, while another 37 percent purchased products over the Internet to help them suppress impulse buying.

Consumers take advantage of aggressive sales
Online consumers continue to purchase big-ticket items when the price is right. In the past few months, 53 percent of online consumers surveyed said they have taken or planned to take advantage of aggressive sales on big-ticket items in one or more of the following categories: electronics (30 percent), home improvement (20 percent), kitchen items (12 percent) and furniture (12 percent). Survey data also revealed that younger generations were more likely to take advantage of these sales. Forty percent of online consumers 18 to 34 years of age purchased or planned to purchase big-ticket electronics on sale, compared with only 26 percent of consumers 55 years of age or older.

View full report (pdf)

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