I’ve been thinking a lot about what is it that influences me to purchase something. Right away, I wouldn’t classify myself as typical anything or a model for a certain type of purchasing behavior. This is just one person’s experience. I am, though, interested in what others would say.
Consumer electronics and travel make up some of the latest major purposes for our household: new video camera, iPhone, and vacation plans. Thinking of what influenced me made me realize that I followed the same pattern for the last car we bought, new household appliances and even birthday presents.
Television and print have almost no impact on those decisions. In fact, with the exception of the iPhone, I can’t even remember seeing an ad for the items I’ve purchased.
My pattern is pretty standard and predictable: I go to Google and search. Then I read reviews, lots of them, from pros and consumers. Then I Google some more to find the best price. I mix that up with some consumer focused sites, like TripAdvisor.com or ConsumerReports.org. I look for advice online and use Google to help me find that advice.
The iPhone experience was different. Mass media and TV played a much bigger role in creating the “want.” I didn’t need any reviews, I just needed to see it and then go try it. However, for iPhone apps, Twitter is the place where I find new apps through people recommending and linking to various sites.
There’s a huge exception to this in my household: My kids. When they watch Sponge Bob et al on Nick, they find the TV ads just as engaging as the shows. They never DVR through commercials. My six-year old son is constantly yelling to us “I want that!” when he sees a cool toy. Both kids memorize URLs from the ads and go to different sites, whether it’s HotWheels.com or ICarly.com. Once in a while they’ll see something that they think my wife and I should get and we’ll get a “yell.”
But back to my pattern: Is this typical? How do you shop? What communications influence your buying patterns? Does traditional media start your process and reinforce it? Or do you bypass it? Does it change depending on what your buying?
One thing seems clear, though: the quicker we can get people to share the experiences of others, the greater the chance for conversions.