Nielsen Survey Dissects Shopping Behavior by Region

Impulse dominates in one part of the world, while price rules in another.

Impulse dominates in one part of the world, while price rules in another. In some regions, brand loyalty is key, while elsewhere famous labels have a growing appeal.

This story first appeared in the July 9, 2013 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The fashion marketplace is clearly a global one. Still, aside from the near-universal desire for quality, shopper behaviors and attitudes have distinctly regional identities. According to a Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Shopping Behavior, respondents in Asia-Pacific shop impulsively and are attracted to designer brands more than in any other region. Latin Americans are intensely brand loyal and well-informed shoppers; North American and European shoppers are largely driven by price, and Middle East-Africa consumers are environmentally aware and influenced by professionals, such as industry experts. The study surveyed more than 29,000 online respondents in 50 countries.

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Brand affinity also differed by region. Six out of 10 respondents in Asia-Pacific were willing to pay extra for designer products (61 percent), exceeding the global average by 17 percentage points. A desire to buy famous brands was highest among respondents in Asia-Pacific (55 percent) and Middle East-Africa (56 percent). Although consumers with Internet access typically point to a more affluent and younger demographic, these respondents represent the rising income and upward mobility of these developing market consumers, according to Nielsen.

Throughout the world, quality was a top concern. More than three-quarters (78 percent) of global respondents said quality was the most important concern, with Latin America (83 percent) and Asia-Pacific (82 percent) respondents exceeding the global average. The survey also revealed that Indians and Chinese were among the most impulsive and brand image-driven shoppers. According to the survey, 74 percent of Chinese consumers, 59 percent of Indian consumers and 58 percent of Brazilian consumers were willing to pay more for designer products than for those with the same function.

Economic realities played a significant role globally, and the need for deals and promotions was paramount. Price was the chief concern among 65 percent of global respondents. Fifty-eight percent believe products with free gifts were good incentives. And with the exception of Greece, the survey showed that developing countries responded most strongly in favor of receiving free gifts. In fact, Filipinos, Greeks and Vietnamese were the most attracted to products with free gifts, according to the study.

Latin American shoppers showed the most affinity to browse and sample before they made a purchase. North American respondents put the least faith in products recommended by professionals or others’ influence. On the other hand, Middle East-Africa and Latin American respondents relied most on the advice of professionals. More than 80 percent of Polish, Thai, Brazilian, Filipino, Venezuelan, Peruvian, Spanish and Mexican respondents said they shopped around for the best deals, according to the Nielsen report.

In the categories of clothes and shoes, design was the most important purchase factor for half (49 percent) of Asia-Pacific respondents, the highest percentage globally, followed by price (37 percent). Price was the most influential criteria for 56 percent of North Americans, 48 percent of Europeans and 44 percent of Latin Americans, followed by design, which was important for about a third of those surveyed. In Middle East-Africa, design and price were important among an equal 35 percent of respondents, respectively, according to the Nielsen study.

Finally, the Internet was the dominant go-to source for home appliances and cars, followed closely by TV. In-store was prominent to get information for clothing and shoes, followed by the Internet. TV was the most influential for household products, according to the Nielsen survey.