Known Quantity: What Consumers Look for During Product Searches

Brand RecognitionIt’s no secret that consumers often prefer to deal with familiar, known retailers when it comes to searching for products online. However, it’s more than just a brand name that compels consumers to choose certain retailers as they conduct product searches. There are plenty of other factors that can easily influence what a consumer ultimately purchases during and after they search for their favorite products.

To get a better idea of what consumers look for when it comes to online retailing, SurveyMonkey and Search Engine Land conducted a survey of more than 400 American consumers near the beginning of the Thanksgiving/Christmas holiday shopping season. Through SurveyMonkey Audience, both companies gathered responses with a 5 percent margin of error and a 95 percent confidence interval.

One of the survey questions asked consumers what was the most important factor when it came to deciding which results to click on during a search engine search. Over 70 percent of consumers responded that they look for a known retailer during their search. Over 56 percent of all consumers responded that they look for a retailer that offers free shipping, while nearly 46 percent look for one that offers sale offers or discounts.

Where the Shoppers Are

In addition to asking participants what mattered most when it came to choosing results during a search engine search, the survey also asked participants which sites they planned to use for searching online for gifts. At 67 percent and 66 percent, Google and Amazon turned out to be the two overwhelmingly popular choices for consumers. Both sites were also the only two to have been named by over a quarter of participants.

Meanwhile, eBay registered a distant third at 24 percent. However, two of the most surprising choices for online gift searching turned out to be Groupon and Etsy. At 13 percent and nearly 12 percent, Groupon and Etsy ranked higher than Pinterest, Bing and a number of other websites.

Interestingly enough, shopping comparison engines ranked the lowest among preferred search engines. Shopzilla, Nextag, Pricegrabber and Bizrate all ranked at the bottom of the survey answers at 1.46 percent, 2.18 percent, 2.43 percent and 1.46 percent, respectively. Given that Google and Amazon are such well-known entities, it is possible that the brand recognition of both names far outstrips those of these considerably lesser-known shopping comparison engines.

What Makes a Known Retailer Known

There are plenty of factors that make certain retailers a known quantity to consumers. Brand recognition is a huge factor for many consumers, especially if such recognition is achieved through an effective online marketing campaign involving various techniques, including search engine optimization. For avid shoppers, an online retailer’s reputation also plays a crucial role for fostering familiarity with a particular retailer.

Online security also plays an interesting role in promoting known retailers among concerned consumers. For instance, online shoppers always admonished to conduct business only with well-known online establishments to avoid becoming potential victims of fraud and identity theft. As a result, many consumers simply gravitate towards known retailers unless they are certain that a lesser-known business is likely to expose them to potential online fraud.

It’s no surprise that many consumers simply stick to brands and websites they trust, while unfamiliar brands and services often suffer due to a relative lack of exposure and experience among consumers. Brand recognition and brand bias play considerable roles in encouraging shoppers to make an educated choice while searching for products and services online.

So, what does this mean for small businesses? Well, it means they need to do more to get their brand out there. It takes time to build up your reputation, but with persistence and effort, you can grab a piece of the pie.

About Steve Baik is a pioneer in the free search engine submission industry and has been providing valuable web tools and resources for small business owners since 1996. Sign up for our free newsletter to receive the latest info on SEO and Internet Marketing.
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