The internet has made it significantly easier for consumers to conduct an information search during the consumer decision-making process. Almost every household owns a computer and has access to the internet. This makes the internet highly accessible, hence information search is fast and convenient.
From the case study, Grace wanted to buy a toaster and it has became a priority for her. Buying a toaster used to be a low involvement process for Grace. Initially, she was not interested to spend much time and effort, and low price was the main factor in buying a toaster. However, internet offers both high and low involvement consumers a wealth of shopping information easily and it has motivated Grace to spend more time in searching a toaster online.
At first, she was just looking for a toaster online but the website provided her with a wide range of choices and comparison of prices, features and reviews. External information search is conducted when she found out that buying a toaster is not an easy process and began to read the reviews written by other consumers. Although she barely discuss with others on the product she plans to buy, she enjoyed reading consumers’ reviews online.
Internet has changed her buying behaviour thus purchasing a toaster online is no longer a low-involvement process for Grace. When Grace spent an hour doing research, this has shown that her online behaviour has changed as she is keen to search for more information on toasters. She might be a low-involvement consumer when choosing a toaster in stores but not in the internet.
The case study shows that Grace looked at over 100 toasters and 150 reviews before deciding to get a Dualit two-slice toaster from Amazon.com after evaluating the price comparison between 5 online stores by Epinions. It also pointed out that after a comparison, although Kitchen Etc.com offers cheaper price, she chose Amazon.com as it provides free-shipping policy and most importantly, she had past experience purchasing from Amazon.com.
The above shows that Grace has established the evaluative criteria. She evaluates the toaster through online stores based on features, pricing and conveniences that suit her needs. After the online research, price is no longer the only criteria in purchasing a toaster and her needs had became a major factor in the decision making process.
In the decision-making process where a wide range of information is needed, the internet provides it readily with a click. Information found on the internet are usually more complete and concise, therefore consumers 'become more informed and have greater control' during their information search. In instances where comparisons are needed, certain websites lay information side-by-side for easier analyzing. This saves a large amount of time and cost for the consumer. Without the internet, the consumer would have to spend time traveling to different stores to gather enough information, make the decision, and spend more time going back to the store to purchase. Things are more efficient with the internet.
‘With the vast array of information, consumers are able to identify the key evaluative criteria, which accelerate the decision-making process’ (Neal, Quester & Hawkins, 2004).
Knowing the importance of the internet, retailers would normally have specific information for their products or services on their websites, so as to provide consumers with accurate information. Hence, consumers need not worry about obtaining information that is imprecise.
Also, review websites allow consumers to look at other consumers' opinions on a particular product or service, which helps the consumer make a decision when stuck. However, consumers should be skeptical about reviews as different people can have different views.
In Grace's case, she came across Epinions, which has information listed by categories for easy...