Despite the popularity of social media, Australians still turn to a brand’s own online communication to help influence their purchasing decision, according to KPMG.
The observation comes from a recent survey, entitled 5th Annual Consumers and Convergence, where the firm found that brand controlled websites have a greater influence on customers when it comes to purchase decisions compared to social media sites.
While Australians use social media to research products and services via their PCs, smartphones and tablets, they are still looking to the brand itself for information and lag behind in online purchasing compared to other countries.
As proof of this, consumers cited being “significantly influenced” by online information sources such as the brand site and comparison sites, while social media sites rated lowest in influencing buying decisions.
While the survey confirmed that Australians are spending more time researching and transacting shopping online than ever before, KPMG Asia-Pacific head of retail, George Svinos, points out that it is mostly limited to ‘digital window shopping’ and does not lead to actual online sales.
He said Australian retailers were competing on a global platform and this holds implications for the retail strategy.
“A local retailer now not only needs to consider the competition next door, but the competition online, and this is exemplified by the current price differential observed in Australia,” Svinos said.
He admits that it is “hard to know” whether the results are due to shopping money going offshore, or whether consumers are researching online and do in-store purchases.
“The appetite of Australians in using social media means that a digital strategy should be a core component of any business in retail, but this shouldn’t be at the expense of a brand’s own online communications with the consumers,” Svinos said.
Other notable findings in the survey were that Australian consumers do not want to pay for associated online content and services, with 91 per cent of Australians unwilling to pay for access to online content, compared with 73 per cent globally.
As an example of this, 60 per cent of Australians are now unwilling to pay for apps, a significant increase from 25 per cent in May 2010.