December 6, 2007, 12:00 AM

Higher-income online shoppers are especially keen on bargains, survey says

Wealthier consumers are most likely to focus on price when shopping online, says a survey by Synovate of Chicago for Guidance, a web technology provider. Another survey shows consumers are slightly more satisfied with online shopping this year than last.

It’s hardly surprising that consumers would cite price as the most important factor in clinching an online purchase. The surprise is that price is more important to those with higher incomes than those with less money, a finding that emerged from a recent study by research firm Synovate of Chicago for Guidance, a web technology provider and systems integrator.

The study of 1,000 online adults found 43% cited price as the most important factor in an online purchase, followed by free shipping (18%), special promotions or coupons (8%), such features as recommendations and product reviews (7%), speed and efficiency of checkout (4%) and in-store pickup or return (1%). The remaining 19% said they did not shop online.

Respondents in the two highest income brackets were significantly more likely to cite price as their top priority than those with lower incomes. For instance, 53% of those earning $50,000 to $75,000 chose price as the most important factor, compared with 37% of those earning under $25,000. Age also made a difference, as price was most important to 53% of those aged 18 to 24, versus only 30% of those 65 and older.

And, in a possible indication that women are busier than men around the holidays, 5% of women chose a speedy, efficient checkout process as most important, versus 2.7% of men.

The Guidance poll was one of several surveys of online shoppers released recently. Here are highlights from three others:

  • Consumers remain slightly more satisfied with the online shopping experience than they were last year, although their satisfaction rating slipped slightly last week, according to ForeSee Results, which specializes in enhancing online marketing programs. The ForeSee Results Holiday Retail Benchmark index stood at 76.3 on a 100-point scale for the week of Nov. 26-Dec. 2, down from 77.1 over Thanksgiving weekend, but ahead of the 76.0 rating for the same week last year. Based on data from 57,000 visitors to more than 40 retail web sites, ForeSee calculates that consumers’ likelihood to shop online is up 1.9% from last year and likelihood to shop in stores up 2.2%.
  • Consumers rated detailed product benefits and capabilities as the most important piece of information when researching a product for purchase, chosen by 67% of 333 adult shoppers in an online survey conducted by WebCollage, a company that helps manufacturers disseminate product information online. Other important pieces of information cited were: system requirements (61%), list of items included with product (61%), comparison of different models (58%), product documentation or warranty information (51%), manufacturer’s overview of product (48%), list of new features in this model (45%), list of compatible accessories (44%), larger or alternate product images (31%), and product tours or demos (27%).
  • Of 115 consumers responding to an online Nov. 30 survey by web retailer Safe Home Products, 95% say they plan to shop online this holiday season, and 65% of those who do say they will make more than half of their purchases via the web. 33% said they would spend more online this year than last, and 74% said they would not shop online from work.

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