The Internet is a strong influencer of purchases in both the U.S. and China, according to a study that compares online consumer behavior in the two countries. The study, released by research firm Netpop, finds some parallels between shopping habits in the U.S. and China, though in many cases China’s usage of the Web occurs at an accelerated rate.
The Internet is a tool to research or purchase 73 percent of products in the U.S., and 93 percent in China. While the percentage in the United States is lower than in China, it’s still significant, said Josh Crandall, the study’s main researcher and managing director of Media-Screen, the creator of Netpop. “If manufacturers and product manufacturers are not online, they are missing an opportunity in connecting with consumers,” he said.
In China, independent sources including social media are important for researching products for many reasons. Crandall said they are ways for Chinese citizens to express their creativity and share opinions, and “historically they have not been able to share their opinions and express themselves openly.”
User generated content is an influence for 58 percent of respondents in China, versus 19 percent of respondents in the United States. Crandall said in China consumers are purchasing consumer electronics that they use to generate their own content online, such as digital cameras and camcorders.
In the United States, 58 percent of the population has broadband, which equates to 74 million people. In China, 10 percent of the population has broadband, which equates to 70 million people. “How these broadband users are purchasing and making their purchase decisions today is certainly influencing the way people purchase online, and still represents less than 10 percent of the total population.”
Previous studies from Netpop indicate demand for high speed Internet in China is high.