About.com's "The Purchase Loop" Study Identifies Most Influential Behaviors in Buying Decisions

About.com's "The Purchase Loop" Study Identifies Most Influential Behaviors in
                               Buying Decisions

PR Newswire

NEW YORK, Feb. 5, 2013

NEW YORK, Feb. 5, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The concept of the purchase funnel
first appeared in the late 19^th century, as a linear journey from a need to a
final purchase. Since then, nearly everything about how consumers interact
with brands has changed. Proprietary research conducted by About.com in
collaboration with Latitude, confirms that the actions of consumers have
evolved drastically, and that what most influences shopping decisions varies
widely by purchase category.

Shopping has Evolved

Not surprisingly, shopping has evolved significantly, fueled in large part by
incredible growth in mobile computing and digital & social media – all factors
which make shopping more convenient and allow for greater sharing of ideas and
opinions. "The Purchase Loop" study demonstrates that shopping is about the
individual more so than ever before. Key elements of the study found that:

  oShopping is more complex than simply identifying a need, exploring options
    and purchasing.
  oPaths to purchase are more complex and less linear.
  oPaths to purchase may require a greater number of "stops" along the way
    but purchases happen more quickly.
  oConsumers' relationships with brands are much more personal.
  oShopping today is less about brands and products themselves and more about
    the consumers' feelings and needs.

The Six Behaviors Driving Purchase

"The Purchase Loop" identified six behaviors which may be followed along the
path to purchase. Each behavior represents a critical point for brands to
engage with and influence the consumer. Notably, the order in which consumers
follow each behavior varies by purchase category as does the importance of
that behavior for each category. Categories studied include food, health,
home, personal finance, technology, style, automobiles, and travel.

"With the rise of mobile and social, along with the sheer volume of
information available online, the path to purchase has radically shifted for
consumers and smart marketers are taking note," said Laura Salant, director of
research for About.com. "The information in this study allows marketers to
understand how they can walk specific paths with consumers and add value
throughout these behaviors – keeping their brands in consumers' consideration
every step of the way."

The six behaviors along "The Purchase Loop" are:

  oOpenness – consumers are receptive to new or better experiences stemming
    from pre-existing interest in or curiosity about a category or topic area.
    Consciously or subconsciously, brands, products or services may be on the
    consumers' radar.
  oRealized want or need – something acts as a catalyst giving the consumer a
    reason to start looking into things he/she wants or needs to do.
  oLearning and education – understanding the broad fundamentals in order to
    make a purchase the consumer can feel good about.
  oSeeking ideas and inspiration – looking for, noticing and keeping track of
    examples, thought-starters, and motivators in order to take the next step.
  oResearch and vetting – comparing options, looking for deals, comparing
    prices, reading reviews and determining personal associations with the
  oPost purchase evaluation and expansion – consumer uses or experiences a
    purchase and decides how he/she feels, might post reviews and share
    experience, can send the consumer into additional purchase loops if
    renewed openness to brand or inspiration to look into related products,
    tasks or needs.

Consumers move from behavior to behavior in paths that resemble spider webs,
with different categories having distinctly different shapes and patterns
proving that current paths to purchase are anything but linear. The study also
examines which platforms are the most likely to be used during each behavior.
Tablets are frequently used during the openness and learning behaviors whereas
television only plays a significant role during the openness and ideas and
inspiration behaviors. The study helps inform marketers on how to deliver
information that is more personal and meaningful to the consumer at any given
point in the purchase process.

About the Study

About.com's "The Purchase Loop" research study was conducted in conjunction
with Latitude using a national sample of 1,600 Americans. The research was
conducted in two phases using qualitative and quantitative analysis. All
respondents were recruited through a national panel, sample balanced to
replicate the overall demographic profile of U.S. online adults age 18+.

A portion of the findings are available at
http://www.advertiseonabout.com/studies/. To request further insights on
About.com's 2013 The Purchase Loop research study, or to schedule an
interview, please contact Bridget Stachowski at bstachowski@about.com.
Category-specific insights are available in the following areas: food, health,
home, personal finance, technology, style, automobiles, and travel.

The Purchase Loop is the third in a trilogy of national research studies
undertaken by About.com to explore consumer-brand relationships and establish
best practices. The first, The Three Mindsets of Search, redefined relevance
in organic search. The second, The Trust Factor, uncovered insights into how
trust drives consumer decisions – an ideal pre-cursor to The Purchase Loop.

About Latitude
Latitude is an international research consultancy helping clients create
engaging content, software and technology that harness the possibilities of
the Web. Using leading-edge techniques and technologies, they uncover new
opportunities for growth, tied to emerging trends and behaviors. To learn more
about working with Latitude, visit http://latd.com.

About The About Group
The About Group comprises the Web sites About.com and CalorieCount.com.
About.com is a valuable resource for content that helps users solve the large
and small needs of everyday life. CalorieCount.com is an online resource that
helps users solve the everyday challenges of losing weight and living a
healthy lifestyle. The About Group is part of Ask.com, which is owned and
operated by IAC (NASDAQ: IACI).

SOURCE The About Group

Website: http://www.about.com
Contact: Bridget Stachowski, bstachowski@about.com, +1-212.204.1984, or
Meredith Worsham, mworsham@about.com, +1-212.204.2617
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