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Only 1 In 5 Online Shoppers Admit to Buying Things to Impress Others

As anyone who has seen Fight Club might recall, we live in an age of unbridled materialism, where the things we buy are a principle source of our self-worth. As social animals, we all want to be esteemed by society around us. Buying stuff, so goes the theory, is a way of demonstrating that you’re a success. How many sports cars have been sold by the idea that the neighbours are watching and judging?

But a survey carried out by customer reviews and insights experts Feefo, gives us reason to doubt this premise. When 2,000 adults were asked what factors inform their purchasing decisions, only one in five admit to buying things because those things contribute to their image.

When a survey reports a finding of this type, it’s often tempting to simply declare that the respondents aren’t being entirely honest – either with the researchers, or with themselves. Who would admit to this kind of shallow motivation? A more cynical view of the finding might be that four out of five consumers in the UK are fibbing!

So, if barely anyone will admit to buying to impress, then what actually does motivate a purchase? Leading the field in this respect is the price of a given item, with 82% of people citing it as the most important factor. When considering a purchase, 64% claimed to trust review websites – but when it comes to trust, closed review platforms have a 49% advantage over open ones, presumably because the open variety is more vulnerable to both bias from consumers and interference from businesses.

Among the study’s most important (and unsurprising) findings, is that a handful of major tech companies exert a huge influence on our buying decisions. 79% of all online shoppers visit Google (41%) or Amazon (38%) when starting their online shopping research.

For Feefo’s Head of Digital, Richard Tank, it’s Amazon’s prominence as an entry-point that’s worth taking note of. ‘While Google’s online monopoly on the web has long been documented, it’s clear that Amazon is now just as prominent as the search engine, even though it’s technically an online retailer,” he says. ‘It’s important to recognise that while consumers may start their search on these websites, they often end up buying from somewhere else. Today’s digital landscape is ever-changing, and businesses have to meet the needs of their customers across the whole purchase journey in order to maintain sales and brand loyalty. The findings of this survey emphasise that.’

The dominance of these major platforms has been building for a long time, and it’s especially important in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic, which has forced consumers online in record numbers. The future of e-commerce, more than ever, looks to be one that’s powered from Silicon Valley!