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Online Consumer Behavior - Essay Example

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Consumer behavior on the internet has been the topic of substantial research in the last few years, but accepting it is made difficult by the fact that the main units concerned, consumers and businesses, have been altered. First, each consumer is now also a computer user…
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Online Consumer Behavior
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Download file to see previous pages In the physical commercial world, the IT used for operations remains mostly in the background, invisible to the consumer. In e-commerce, however, the technology has been moved to the foreground and has become the store itself as a Web site. Such Web-based stores that use "networks and Internet technology for communications and transactions between various groups of stakeholders like businesses and consumers" have recently also been called Net-enabled organizations (NEOs).
A key difference between online and offline consumer behavior is that the online consumer is generally more powerful, demanding, and utilitarian in her shopping expeditions. As a result, customer loyalty on the Web is low overall; although, as in the physical world, it is influenced by the availability of good, relevant content in an enjoyable context.
Now that nearly all marketers have accepted that tapping a promotion's full potential requires strategically integrating the online and offline components, considering the differences between online and offline consumer behavior becomes important.
Some professionals contend that these differences are enormous; a common refrain, for example, is that where consumer behavior offline is passive, the Web is all about engagement. But what those observers really are comparing is consumer behavior relative to advertising media; they're comparing how consumers interact with ads on television as compared with ads on the Internet.
Where online and offline promotions are concerned, the differences are far less pronounced. In many cases, a Web site is really just a digitized retail store. Still, the simple insight that the exact same triggers motivate transactions both on- and offline has tended to become obscured amid the excitement accompanying the rise of online marketing.
Promotions that focus on connecting the dots between in-store and online merchandising have, in fact, proved highly successful. Pepsi enjoyed runaway success with its E-Stuff promotion, which drove traffic from the store to the Web and back again. Simon Brand Ventures similarly fielded an online promotion that drove online shoppers to the company's malls, and mall shoppers to the Web.
That's not to say that anyone who knows everything about offline promotions can consider himself armed and dangerous when it comes to online promotions. Some interesting, and sometimes surprising, trends and patterns have emerged with regard to online consumer behavior.
One such interesting development concerns the profile of the online population: According to a recent newspaper report, the fastest-growing consumer segment on the Web is blue-collar workers---up 52% since spring 2001. A separate and somewhat contradictory report has it that seniors actually are the fastest-growing segment, even though 87% of people over age 65 don't yet have Web access.
Meanwhile, a third survey found that online games, in particular, hold surprising appeal among older consumers. This survey discovered that 42% of frequent online garnets are over age 35, while just 30% are 18-to-35 years old.
These groups have nowhere to go but up in terms of their online use; still, their growing ranks among the wired population point to as-yet uncharted opportunities for promotion marketers, and their online behavior bears watching.
Plenty of opportunity remains among the younger set, to ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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