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Global consumers’ motivation to go online differs depending on economic development of their countries, the Connected Consumer Study finds

The global research and consulting firm A.T. Kearney has revealed the findings of its latest survey of nearly 10,000 “connected consumers”—those going online at least once a week.

The respondents from across ten countries—the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, Brazil, Russia, China, India, South Africa, and Nigeria—agreed on four primary motivations for using Internet, however, the extent to which those factors motivated consumers from developed and developing countries was different.

Here are the major highlights of the research:

1. Frequency and continuation of connectivity is high across all surveyed countries.  More than a half of the respondents stay online every waking hour. By country, the percentage of those who are “connected all day long” is the highest in Brazil (51%) and lowest in Japan (13%). A generalized portrait of a continuously connected user is a single man of 26-35 years old.


Pic.: Shares of time spent online by global consumers

2. Four motivations to go online:

  • interpersonal connection (73% global average index). The importance of this factor is higher for the emerging economies like India (94%), Brazil (89%), or China (88%) and is less from the US, UK or Germany (all under 70%).
  • self-expression (62% global average index). The motivation to connect to express thoughts is rather low in Japan (30%), the US (38%) and Germany (32%) and rather high in India, Nigeria and China (88-89%).
  • exploration (95% global average). This factor is the strongest universal motivation to connect in all surveyed markets.
  • convenience (85.6% global average). Connected consumers use Internet to choose entertainment, navigate offline or —mostly—learn information on products and services and purchase them (92%).

Pic.: Four motivations to go online

 3. Social media engage to some extent, but don’t necessarily sell. That’s where global connected consumers spend most of their time online (46% global average index)— social networks. However, while the respondents from Brazil, Nigeria, India, and Russia tend to spend more than 50% of their time on social network, the percentage in the U.S., Germany and Japan is lower than 40%. The survey finds that there is no direct correlation between the number of users of a social network and the level of engagement or number of purchases.

There is a correlation between age and social network’s influence on purchasing decisions: about 66% respondents under 35 years old confirm they rely on information from social media frequently or occasionally when making purchasing decision vs. 80% of respondent over 65% who rarely or never rely on social networks for shopping. Chinese shoppers, unlike the American, tend to be the most  avid social media adopters: 95% irrespective of the age use social networks to evaluate products and make purchasing decisions.


Pic.: Correlation between age and an influence of social media on purchasing decision + China vs the U.S. statistics

4. Shopping preferences become omnichannel: physical and online experience converge. While the share of purchases in traditional stores is dominating, 54% of the global surveyed consumers say they prefer shopping online (84% in China — max., and 31% in South Africs— min.)

Depending on the shopping preferences, A.T. Kearney suggests four types of connected consumers:

  • Bricks, no clicks (30%) — less connected, mostly buy from traditional retailers.
  • Online champions (28%) — they actively surf online, sometime click ads, use social networks and sometimes buy online. The segment is dominated by respondents from developing markets.
  • Social animals (24%)— they are online most of their waking hours, but buy online less frequently than “online champions”. In the US, the UK and Germany this segment is the smallest, while in Japan, Russia and South Africa it is big.
  • Transactionals (19%) — the most pragmatic segment. When they are online, they know what they want and what to do.

The researchers behind the Connected Consumers Study draw some conclusions and suggest advice for brands and retailers on how to better engage active Internet users: from personalization to educational storytelling. Read more about them here.