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Extensive research is a waste of time, study finds

09 September 2016 - 09:28 by David Aiken

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People who are willing to dedicate days, weeks or months to comparing and researching products before they buy them via safe shopping online are most likely wasting their time, according to a new study from Marketing Science.

The Telegraph reports that the majority of consumers end up returning to the first item they found when they began their search, even if they spend a lot of time in between checking out specifications, looking up prices and generally procrastinating.

In the study, analysts focused on consumers purchasing digital cameras from major outlets, including Amazon. And after three months of intense assessment, some interesting conclusions were drawn.

A quarter of people tend to make a purchase online within the first e-commerce session they initiate. Forty per cent limit their study to a single brand, suggesting they are either familiar with it from earlier purchases or know it by reputation.

It takes an average of just over two weeks between the initial search and the eventual sale, with typical consumers indulging in six bouts of e-commerce research during this period. But ultimately, the length of time taken is immaterial since shoppers usually end up back where they started, buying the first thing they found.

Report spokesperson, Bart Bronnenberg, said that analysts were surprised to see that people were far less thorough in their examination of most product categories than might be assumed. Instead, most go into the process already having a fairly good concept of what they are looking for in a product, rendering the wealth of information available online redundant.

Bronnenberg explained that most online research comes down to a refining of this initial concept, meaning that it usually takes no time at all for a consumer to encounter the ideal product they desire with a quick online search.