Online tops for product research

A new study indicates that women are increasingly turning to the web to research products and services, but still like to share their opinions via WOM.

Café chit-chat, mommy-and-baby groups or good old-fashioned gossip – all are time-honoured ways women have learned about new products and services from their friends and family.

However, a new study from Harbinger and Ipsos has found that the balance has shifted and women are increasingly turning to the web to research the products and services in which they are interested.

Polling 2,000 women and covering North America, the study found that 70% of women said they preferred to use the internet, when asked the top three sources of information they used to research products and services. Only 58% of women listed traditional WOM (e.g. friends, family) as a source of information.

Despite the overall shift, women’s preferences regarding how they obtain and share information on products and services changes depending on their life stage, the study found. The group most likely to go to online sources for information on product and services were new mothers, whereas empty-nesters are more likely to go to friends and family for advice.

When it comes to sharing, or spreading information and opinions about products and services, 92% of women polled said they prefer face to face, even over social media sites such as Facebook.

The topics most likely to be researched (online or off) were restaurants (71%), whereas only 41% would seek out opinions on ‘clothing or fashion.’ The same was true when it came to spreading information about products and services. Those polled said they most often shared opinions about restaurants, automobiles and entertainment, and were least likely to share about fashion and baby products.

‘A message seems most spreadable when it’s tied to a product or service that’s less personal in nature and allows for a deeper discussion of product features or benefits,’ Deborah Adams, SVP, Harbinger, said in a release.