High-Tech, Low-Involvement: Changing Consumersâ Search for Information The internet has made it significantly easier for consumers to conduct an information search during the consumer decision-making process. Almost every household owns a computer and has access to the internet. This makes the internet highly accessible, hence information search is fast and convenient. From the case study, Grace wanted to buy a toaster and it has became a priority for her. Buying a toaster used to be a low involvement process for Grace.
Initially, she was not interested to spend much time and effort, and low price was the main factor in buying a toaster. However, internet offers both high and low involvement consumers a wealth of shopping information easily and it has motivated Grace to spend more time in searching a toaster online. At first, she was just looking for a toaster online but the website provided her with a wide range of choices and comparison of prices, features and reviews. External information search is conducted when she found out that buying a toaster is not an easy process and began to read the reviews written by other consumers.Although she barely discuss with others on the product she plans to buy, she enjoyed reading consumersâ reviews online.
Internet has changed her buying behaviour thus purchasing a toaster online is no longer a low-involvement process for Grace. When Grace spent an hour doing research, this has shown that her online behaviour has changed as she is keen to search for more information on toasters. She might be a low-involvement consumer when choosing a toaster in stores but not in the internet.The...
case study shows that Grace looked at over 100 toasters and 150 reviews before deciding to get a Dualit two-slice toaster from Amazon. com after evaluating the price comparison between 5 online stores by Epinions.
It also pointed out that after a comparison, although Kitchen Etc. com offers cheaper price, she chose Amazon. com as it provides free-shipping policy and most importantly, she had past experience purchasing from Amazon. com. The above shows that Grace has established the evaluative criteria. She evaluates the toaster through online stores based on features, pricing and conveniences that suit her needs.
After the online research, price is no longer the only criteria in purchasing a toaster and her needs had became a major factor in the decision making process. In the decision-making process where a wide range of information is needed, the internet provides it readily with a click. Information found on the internet are usually more complete and concise, therefore consumers ‘become more informed and have greater control’ during their information search. In instances where comparisons are needed, certain websites lay information side-by-side for easier analyzing. This saves a large amount of time and cost for the consumer.Without the internet, the consumer would have to spend time traveling to different stores to gather enough information, make the decision, and spend more time going back to the store to purchase.
Things are more efficient with the internet. âWith the vast array of information, consumers are able to identify the key evaluative criteria, which accelerate the decision-making processâ
(Neal, Quester & Hawkins, 2004). Knowing the importance of the internet, retailers would normally have specific information for their products or services on their websites, so as to provide consumers with accurate information.Hence, consumers need not worry about obtaining information that is imprecise. Also, review websites allow consumers to look at other consumers’ opinions on a particular product or service, which helps the consumer make a decision when stuck.
However, consumers should be skeptical about reviews as different people can have different views. In Grace’s case, she came across Epinions, which has information listed by categories for easy searching. An originally low-involvement shopping process for Grace, has turned into a high-involvement one without much effort.A consumer like her, who if not for the internet, as stated in case study ‘would have only spent five minutes comparing the three brands that each store stocks and bought whichever was the cheapest’. As mentioned above, if Grace were to physically visit the stores and compare the toasters, she would probably spent up to days solely on the information gathering process, much less analyzing the information to arrive upon her decision.
The efficiency of the internet allows Grace to not only be aware of her needs, but also saved a huge amount of time and cost in terms of information searching.It has turned her limited information search into an extended one effortlessly. As quality of information available online improves, consumers can make more informed decisions when deciding on a purchase. They possess ‘information power’, and have the internet access at their dispose whenever they are equipped with their laptops or even mobile phones. The process of information search is simplified through internet and make it more beneficial and swift for both low-involvement and high-involvement consumer.
After a random search on several websites for online consumer reviews, we discovered that in general, many online consumers prefer to rate the satisfactory level of a product on a neutral stand, which means on a scale of 5, they would give rating at 2. 5 or 3. Hence, it does not provide sufficient information which allows the online reader to make accurate judgement based on the consumer online reviews. (Refer to appendix 1.
1) Reviews posted on forum by online users are mostly vague. They are usually in a few short phrases, which are also very subjective. For example, in makeupalley. om, there are few users who commented on a product of Sally Hansen in short sentences.
(Refer to appendix 1. 2) These people post reviews for no real intention, they might just want to be involved in the reviews even though they do not exactly use the product, thus what they say have only a certain degree of accuracy. In the same website, there could be two extreme rating. One might rate 1 out of 5, the other might rate 5 out of 5. Thus it is difficult for the other users to gauge the accuracy of the rating. For example, in download.
com, there is a person who rated ICQ application 4 out of 5 while the rest either rate it as 1 or 2 out of
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