The Role of Informal Sources of Information in the Polish Consumer Market
Perspectives on Innovations, Economics & Business, Volume 9, Issue 3, November 1, 2011
5 Pages Posted: 8 Jul 2012
Date Written: 2011
The paper presents results of the research conducted in 2009 with the participation of 466 Internet users via an online survey. The research showed that consumers before the purchase utilize formal sources of information about the product more often than informal ones. Nevertheless, the more they refer to the formal sources, the more they refer to the informal ones. It was also proved that in the tested group the place of residence, the time spent using the Internet and the value of a product had an influence on the prevalence of formal sources.
The Internet influenced the purchase processes both by the development of e-commerce and by providing customers with an easy access to information about products. Therefore, apart from online purchases one should also take into consideration the ROPO effect (i.e. Research Online Purchase Offline). It has been confirmed by numerous studies. According to Forrester Research, online research influenced a striking 42% of online and offline sales in 2009 (eMarketer, 2010a). The research conducted among the customers of popular Polish chain stores offering consumer electronics and home appliances showed that 64% of respondents looked for information about products on the Internet before the purchase (Google & TNS OBOP, 2008). Other studies carried out among Polish Internet users showed that the web is a key source of information on products for 78% of them (Gazeta.pl & Next, 2010).
Customers’ buying behaviour regarding information search and conducting a transaction may vary depending on whether the product was a search or experience good (Huang, Lurie and Mitra, 2009), the availability of channels (Young-Hyuck & Hyung-Jin Park, 2008) and the consumer’s ability to retrieve the information (Kurozovich, Viswabathan, Agrwal, Gosain and Weitzman, 2008).
Numerous studies have demonstrated that informal sources of information play a vital role in the purchase process. According to the research quoted by eMarketer, American online moms put their faith in consumer reviews nearly 12 times more than in descriptions provided by the manufacturer. Other studies presented by the company show that the most credible source of information about a brand on a social networking website is a customer and finally a brand itself. The cultural aspect is also very important. Consumers from Eastern Europe put more trust in consumer-based word-for-mouth than Asian or South American customers, staying more sceptical about the brand as a source of information (eMarketer, 2010c).
Keywords: Informal sources of information, ROPO, consumer behaviour, purchase behavior, B2C, Poland, Central Europe, CE, CEE
JEL Classification: L86, P46
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation