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Online shoppers conducting more research before they buy, Google data shows

Online shoppers are conducting more research than ever before making a purchase, with 62% using Google’s Shopping tab to compare similar products from different retailers. This aligns with a rise in Google searches to compare similar products and gather inspiration. In the last three months, searches for “best coat” increased over 387%, “best deals” rose 50% and “best hair product” also went up by 50%.

So finds The Google Retail Index, conducted with research partner Trinity McQueen, which surveyed some 5,000 UK shoppers and found that current economic uncertainties were top of mind for many and expected to alter their seasonal shopping plans as a result. This is also reflected by today’s Google Search Trends which show searches for “inflation” increased by 112% year-on-year amongst Britons, although interest in Black Friday continues to accelerate, with searches increasing by 30% year-on-year. 

Drilling down into the data reveals just how searches and resultant customer behaviour is changing across different sectors within retail. 

Fashion consumers 

Almost half (47%) of fashion consumers have bought from a new retailer in the last six months, a significant increase on 2020 when just 24% said the same. Three in four fashion consumers said “economic uncertainty” has impacted their plans this Christmas, yet three in five said they plan to spend the same amount as last year. The majority of fashion consumers said they spend one to two months gathering inspiration for Christmas shopping, however 1 in 5 buy on impulse

Sports consumers

80% of sports apparel consumers said economic uncertainty has impacted their plans for Christmas 2022 and yet a quarter said they intend to spend more than last Christmas. 43% of sports apparel consumers say that they will shop around for better deals/discounts this Christmas as a result of current economic uncertainties. Three quarters of sports shoppers have tried a new sports brand or retailer in the last six months.

Home and furniture consumers

Three quarters of home shoppers said that “economic uncertainty” has impacted their plans for Christmas, with 63% of home and furniture consumers stating that they don’t have a specific retailer or brand in mind when gathering inspiration for a purchase.

65% of home and furniture consumers said they would cut back on buying luxury or expensive gifts this Christmas and 60% are planning to shop with more affordable retailers

Electronic goods consumers 

More than half (65%) of those buying electronics said that they too are cutting back on luxury gift buying this Christmas. Prior to a purchase, 51% of gadget consumers claimed they don’t have a specific brand or retailer in mind when in the inspiration gathering phase. 44% of gadgets consumers said they’re planning to shop online rather than in-store in the next six months because it’s easier to compare different products – only 33% said the same when asked in March.

Beauty consumers

Eight in 10 beauty consumers plan to spend the same amount or less this Christmas, with almost half (49%) having bought from a new retailer in the last six months. More than half (57%) of beauty consumers said they browse online before an in-store purchase.

“Retailers know all too well that the key to their success lies in meeting their customers where they are, by catering to their evolving needs and preferences. That’s why we’re sharing insights into their customers’ search and shopping habits and plans for the peak shopping season,” explains Kevin Mathers, MD, Retail at Google. “Our findings point to the fact that people are browsing more, are increasingly open to trying new brands, and respond best to omnichannel shopping experiences with 30% of UK shoppers today browsing online to decide what they’re going to buy before heading to a physical store to make the purchase. Retailers with strategies to capitalise on these trends will reap the rewards.”

The insights are intended for use by UK retailers to get the most out of their campaigns during this peak shopping season. To best prepare for 2022’s peak season, Google’s Mathers recommends that retailers keep the following three things in mind:

 • Automation key during uncertain times – retailers can feed their first party data into automated tools to drive the return on advertising spend they want to achieve.

• Using marketing campaigns that cover multiple fronts – by connecting sales data across touchpoints, retailers can more accurately measure the impact of marketing on in-store outcomes. 

• Tackle challenges by uniting teams – omnichannel marketing campaigns are most successful when teams across an organisation break down silos to work together and deliver a seamless experience.

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