Tag Archives: Internet

The search for China’s searchers

The search for China’s searchers

When you’re number one at home, it’s a lot less fun to go abroad and be number three, four, or lower. Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft’s search sites have that unenviable position in China today.

Why is this important?

Customer vote with their fingertips, as much as they can. Engineering-oriented American technology companies have a tough enough time trying to use innovation to grow, yet it takes much more than exporting technology to attract the same market share or type of customers.

Based on surveys of Chinese urbanites as part of the Technology User Profile 2009 Global Insights Edition, MetaFacts finds that Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft’s MSN, Live, and Bing are ranked 3rd, 4th, and 5th as the preferred search engine. Each of these engines which dominate in the US have 5% or less share in China. The top two preferred search engines are Baidu with 68% and Sogou with 23%.

Furthermore, the few regulars which the American search engines have attracted are less active and demographically less desirable than those using dominant Chinese search engines.

Sogou, perhaps taking a page from the “we’re number two and we try harder” approach, have attracted searchers with the most interesting qualities for marketers. Sogou’s households are larger with nearly four persons on average to Google’s and Yahoo’s four. Sogou’s searchers are more sophisticated using mobile phones, with 61% regularly using their mobile phones for 11 or more activities, while Google’s and Microsoft’s customers are more likely to be basic mobile phone users. Sogou’s searchers also both have and plan to have the longest list of consumer electronics, from entertainment to imaging.

Taking the long view, perhaps American search engines’ foray into China might be seen as the first steps of a long journey.

Further Resources

MetaFacts Technology User Profile – 2009 Global Insights Edition – a syndicated survey of 30,889 representative respondents in 16 countries.

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Filed under Consumer research, TUP 2009

Online and Retail Shopping – Not All Buyers Fit in the Same Big Box

Many dot-com pundits spelled the death of brick-and-mortar retail years ago. Consumers of technology products were assumed to be tech-savvy enough to skip visiting their local Wal-Mart. However, many consumers enjoy the social aspect of shopping, while at the same time others have integrated the web into their shopping process.Now that over half (50.1%) of Americans with home PCs agree that “My computer is a big part of my life,” it should be no surprise that it plays a big part in their shopping behavior. This is based on 7,958 households with Home PCs that were surveyed as part of the most recent MetaFacts Technology User Profile survey.

American consumers have been well-trained to wait for lower prices. Technology companies have further reinforced this through continued emphasis on “the next big thing.”

Nearly 8 times as many consumers agree than disagree with the statement “I hold off on buying technology products until their prices come down.” More than four in ten (41%) of home computer owners agreed with this statement, while one in twenty (5%) disagreed.

Best Buy customers aren’t as hesitant about shopping for technology products as are customers of other major retailers. Perhaps the “Geek Squad” has helped. Just over a third (36%) of Best Buy shoppers agree, much less than the 43% of Wal-Mart and Walgreens shoppers. Nearly ten times as many Wal-Mart and Walgreens shoppers agree than disagree with the above statement.

Further, retail consumers are strongly incorporating the web into their shopping, even while some shoppers strongly value the social interaction of shopping.

Why is this important?

As technology product shoppers transform what they value – low prices, brands, social interaction – as well as their sophistication with integrating the web into their buying processes – then this can split the market into pieces. This can leave some retailers following their customers, instead of the other way around.

There’s a sizable group that have integrated the Internet into their retail buying process. Over a third (35%) of American shoppers prefer to do their buying research online and then purchase in person. This is four times as high a rate as among those that don’t. Among the major retailers, Best Buy has attracted most of these, with 41% that agree while 7% disagree.

Low prices resonate with many buyers. Nearly 3 in 10 (29%) agree with the statement “low prices are more important than brand names.” Almost three times as many agree than disagree. 14% of Barnes & Noble online buyers disagree that low prices are more important than brand names, a small number, but the largest among the national online and retail outlets. The national rate is 11%.

Many buyers value in-person social interaction in their shopping process. 29% of shoppers with home PCs agree with the statement “I enjoy shopping in person because I can talk with and meet people,” compared with 15% that disagree.

Dell or Amazon shoppers are less interested in the social value of shopping than most other consumers. More Dell & Amazon customers disagree than agree. One-fifth (21% of Dell and 20% of Amazon shoppers) disagree, higher than the 15% national rate.

We expect the market to further splinter as Americans continue to learn and evolve how they buy consumer electronics. As the Internet becomes more integral in certain American’s lives, they will be very different from who they are today. At the same time, shoppers who haven’t embraced the web or have pulled the plug will be taking completely different shopping approaches, further frustrating those retailers attempting to fit all buyers into the same big box.

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Filed under Consumer research, Market Research, Technology, TUP 2005

TUPdates: The Fastest Online Get Busier While The Rest Get Left Behind

Broad public awareness about the Digital Divide was only a warm-up drill – a substantial group of Americans are now being left even further behind. While the growing economic and educational divide get lots of coverage, less attention has been given to the implications of the growing rift between the fast-connected and slow-connected. Furthermore, broadband adoption has stalled among the heaviest online users.

Why is this important?

Product planners, technologists, consumer marketers, governments, and even pollsters that imagine that all Internet users are high-speed and equal are missing the mark. The very people they are trying to reach with rich, streaming music or video content are a subset of the market and while growing in numbers, have dropped as a percent of those online. While broadband-attached users are increasing their time online, the ranks of dial-up users have swelled and are spending less time online. Internet users without fast, persistent connections might even pull the plug out of frustration.

According to the current edition of Technology User Profile, the longest-running large-scale technology survey conducted in the U.S., this year marks the first time in recent history that more than two-thirds (66.9%) of home Internet users with broadband connections spent 11 or more hours online per week. This is up from 62.9% in 2003. Also, heavy users have increased their hours online, rising from 34.8% of home PCs in 2003 to 38.5% in 2004. The study surveyed 10,418 computer users and asked them how many hours they spent actively on the Internet during a typical week at home.

This may appear to be rosy news for broadband providers, validating that users like what they see and therefore increase their usage. However, not all of the news is positive.

Light users, those with less than 11 hours online per week, have precipitously declining broadband adoption rates, dropping from 30.2% in 2003 to less than a quarter (24.2%) in 2004. At this point, this is due more to the entrance of new users that typically don’t spend as much time online and that don’t start with broadband connections, than being due to broadband users pulling the plug.

By comparison, moderate users (11 or more hours per week) and heavy users (21 or more hours per week) had flat broadband adoption rates. Moderate users remained flat with 46.9% having broadband in 2003 and 46.4% in 2004. Broadband adoption by heavy users was also flat, with 51.5% in 2003 and 51.6% in 2004. So, it is not as if the heaviest dial-up users are making the move to broadband.

Other factors at play are multiple-PC households, wireless networks, and the growing adoption of computer and online use by ever-younger users.

This mixed news may come as a shock to those that believe that everyone is high-bandwidth like them. It means that further shocks may crop up when those expecting nothing but growth find that they face declining numbers. Identifying those segments that are at risk of reducing their use and catering to their unique needs may help avoid such declines.

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Filed under Market Research