Online Decision Making Process and Consumer Behavior


Popularity of online shopping activities among consumers is a result of the progress of the Internet in a modern society. The online decision-making process includes stages which are typical for the general buying process, but the character of these stages is different.

The consumer who prefers online purchasing activities concentrates on the problem recognition, on the search of the additional information, on evaluation of available alternatives, on the decision to buy a product or service, and on the evaluation of the purchased item (Katawetawaraks & Wang, 2011, p. 67).

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However, the consumer’s decision-making process related to online purchasing is significantly affected by a range of such consumer behaviour factors as socio-demographic factors, personal factors, cultural factors, and the factor of the social media and technology’s impact. These consumer behaviour factors should be discussed with references to similarities and differences in the online decision-making of German and Korean buyers.

Demographic Factors

Demographic factors influencing the consumer’s purchasing behaviour and decision-making process of customers in Korea and Germany are gender and age. Gender affects the consumer’s focus on different categories of products and their approaches to choose the item. Thus, men prefer to buy electronics online, and they focus on comparing products’ attributes and prices online. Women prefer buying apparel and shoes online, and their buying decision is often affected by the websites’ interfaces (Burkolter & Kluge, 2013).

Age is also important to determine the category of products to buy. Thus, young people prefer buying electronics and different devices when elder persons focus on buying household goods (Park & Kim, 2003, p. 18). In Germany, typical online shoppers are young employed males who focus on purchasing entertainment goods and computers (Burkolter & Kluge, 2013). In Korea, young males also often buy electronics and computers online, but they more concentrate on reading reviews and consulting experts (Park & Kim, 2003, p. 18).

Female online buyers are more characteristic for the German online shopping environments, and they are focused on purchasing apparel and health and care products (Burkolter & Kluge, 2013). Furthermore, gender and age influence online shopping in Germany and Korea because these factors are associated with the factor of the economic independence of buyers in these countries.

Personal Differences

One more important factor to influence the online decision-making is personal differences of consumers related to their differences in income, education, occupation, lifestyle, and motivation. It is important to note that those consumers who belong to different social classes and have different incomes are inclined to use different consumption patterns depending on their needs and desires (The 4 factors influencing consumer behavior, 2013).

In the European countries, well-educated representatives of the upper-middle social class are inclined to use online shopping because of the variety of items proposed. As a result, the decision-making process depends on the comparison of the products’ desired attributes (Burkolter & Kluge, 2013; Katawetawaraks & Wang, 2011, p. 68).

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In Asian countries, the personal factors which influence the online decision-making process are the lack of personal time, differences in needs, and the attitude to saving money (Park & Kim, 2003, p. 19). Lifestyle, needs, and income can be discussed as basic factors to influence the purchasing behaviour because of the proposed opportunities regarding choice and payment.

Cultural Issues

Culture plays the key role in influencing consumers’ attitudes to purchasing online, and as a result, to the decision-making process. Discussing the factor of culture, researchers focus on the role of consumers’ “knowledge, beliefs, arts, laws, ethics, customs and many other abilities and habits that are obtained by an individual just by being part of the society” (Keisidou, Sarigiannidis, & Maditinos, 2011, p. 32).

Furthermore, such subcultures as families, social groups, and religious groups also influence consumers’ purchasing behaviours. Culture is a factor that explains why Germans prefer credible online stores to purchase household items and electronics (Burkolter & Kluge, 2013).

Although consumers in Korea also pay attention to the issues of security and privacy while discussing online stores, Korean consumers are less focused on avoiding risks associated with online purchasing than German buyers because online shopping is more typical for the Korean culture focused on evaluating brands and saving time.

Social Media and Technology

The ability to access all the necessary information about online stores, products, and appropriate prices online also influences the consumers’ decision-making process. Modern online buyers prefer to use the Internet to seek for customers’ reviews and feedbacks provided in blogs.

Consumers also use social media to find all the necessary information about the desired product. As a result, such stages of the decision-making process as the search of the additional information and comparison of alternatives are highly affected by modern technologies.

Consumers post reviews and exchange experiences associated with products and services online, while affecting not only the decision-making process but also popularity of brands and online stores (Keisidou et al., 2011, p. 32). Personal mobile devices provide consumers with the immediate access not only to online stores but also to online reviews and ratings of brands, products, and services.

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Conclusion

The online decision-making process and consumers’ purchasing behaviours are significantly affected by such factors as demographic factors, including gender and age; personal factors, including income disparities, differences in education and occupation; cultural factors associated with ethics and religious aspects; and such a factor as the social media and technologies. These factors are associated with consumers’ differences in their behaviours while discussing what product or service to buy online.

References

Burkolter, D., & Kluge, A. (2013). Online consumer behavior and its relationship with socio-demographics, shopping orientations, need for emotion, and fashion leadership.

Katawetawaraks, C., & Wang, C. (2011). Online shopper behavior: Influences of online shopping decision. Asian Journal of Business Research, 1(2), 66-74.

Keisidou, E., Sarigiannidis, L., & Maditinos, D. (2011). Consumer characteristics and their effect on accepting online shopping, in the context of different product types. Internet Journal of Business Science and Applied Management, 6(2), 31-51.

Park, C., & Kim, Y. (2003). Identifying key factors affecting consumer purchase behavior in an online shopping context. International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, 31(1), 16-29.

The 4 factors influencing consumer behavior. (2013).

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