Internet increasingly driving consumer behaviour says Bayt.com
- United Arab Emirates: Sunday, July 15 - 2007 at 14:26
- PRESS RELEASE
Some 55 per cent of internet users across the Middle East and North Africa regularly frequent blogs, social network sites, email discussion groups, community boards and other web-based sources, according to new research carried out by the region's premier online job site, Bayt.com.
Of 4,600 Bayt.com users polled, an overwhelming 81 per cent admitted that the internet has made them more favourable towards certain brands. The respondents included both male and female users.
"The results of this survey should serve as a wake-up call to anyone in this region who has an interest in marketing and media," said Rabea Ataya, CEO of Bayt.com. "Our latest study marks a pioneering step in understanding how people in the region use the internet when making their buying decisions."
Among the findings in the study is that the internet currently ranks second to word-of-mouth when it comes to influencing people's purchasing decisions, with 43 per cent saying they used websites as a source of information, compared to 55 per cent who relied on people they know. Newspapers came in third with 40 per cent.
The internet proved to be an important source for research, with 76 per cent agreeing that they sought more information on a service or product on the web after seeing it advertised in other media. Online advertising also impacted in-store behaviour, with 64 per cent agreeing that they often noticed a web-based advertisement then checked out the product later in the store.
In a particularly ominous turn for traditional media, 47 per cent said they used the internet more than three hours per day, compared to only 18 per cent for television viewers. In Kuwait, 54 per cent of internet users spend more than three hours a day online.
Overall, there was a positive feeling regarding the impact of the internet on purchases, shopping behaviour and attitudes. The internet made 83 per cent aware of a new brand while 68 per cent later bought the brand. The internet influenced 59 per cent to change brands.
"One of the key findings of this study is that people trust their own abilities to use this medium to inform their purchasing decisions," said Ataya. "More than a third of respondents regarded themselves as having expert internet capability, while 47 per cent described themselves as knowledgeable. This is a sign that consumer control is really taking off."
Ataya added the survey revealed the internet goes beyond informing purchasing decisions. Some 58 per cent of respondents, for instance, say they have bought items online. For GCC Arabs, the figure was 52 per cent, 49 per cent for the UAE, and 25 per cent in Egypt. Among the top income bracket of US$5,000-plus per month, the figure rose to 68 per cent.
In terms of the kinds of online purchases, travel came out on top, with 41 per cent of respondents making online travel-related transactions over the past 12 months, followed by software and books at 40 per cent. Furniture purchases ranked the lowest, at 4 per cent. For services, 42 per cent said they had found a job online, while 39 per cent pay their bills.
The level of satisfaction in terms of online transactions was high, with 58 per cent stating they were satisfied compared to 14 per cent expressing dissatisfaction.
But there were barriers to online purchasing. The survey found that 62 per cent of respondents claimed they would prefer to see a product prior to purchase, while 45 per cent cited the fact they didn't have a credit card as the reason for not buying online. Such people, the study suggests, use the internet primarily for research and make their purchases in-store.
The Bayt.com online consumer survey is the latest in a series commissioned by the job site. Company representatives stress that the latest survey demonstrates the behaviour of people who have internet access and who use Bayt.com, and is not indicative of the broader public.
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