Daily News: June 5, 2012

GE Capital Study Reveals Decision Process for Major Purchases

Consumers spend an average of 76 days in the research process when considering a major purchase, according to a recent consumer research study sponsored by GE Capital’s Retail Finance business.

The survey and interviews, conducted by Rothstein Tauber, a marketing research company based in Stamford, CT, explored the shopping habits of more than 3,000 consumers nationwide that were in the market for major items such as appliances, electronics, floor covering, home furnishings, home improvements, jewelry and lawn and garden equipment. Nearly 2,000 of the consumers were GE Capital Retail Bank (GECRB) accountholders and one third of respondents were random shoppers. All had recently made purchases of $500 or more. Portions of the Major Purchase Shopper Study will be updated annually.

“The findings indicate that consumers take a significant amount of time to plan and evaluate major purchases, with 61% starting with online research,” said Toni White, chief marketing officer of GE Capital’s Retail Finance business. “This major purchase study also validates that financing continues to play a key role in helping consumers make their buying decisions across every category.”

The results provide a clearer picture of the process consumers go through when considering a major purchase. Depending on the category, the length of time spent researching the purchase took between 38 and 115 days — more than two months on average. While the data represents the average major purchase experience, it is inclusive of shoppers who had a short decision cycle due to an urgent need to replace an item. The study also revealed the way in which consumers conducted product research and the role of payment options in their decision. Among the findings:

  • More than 60% of consumers begin product research online, but 89% made their purchase at a brick-and-mortar store.

  • Consumers, on average, visited two-to-three unique online retailers and two-to-three unique brick-and-mortar stores before making their purchase.

  • Nearly 70% of shoppers said their choice of payment options was made before they entered the store to make their purchase.

  • Six out of 10 GECRB cardholders said the availability of financing drove their final choice of retailer.

    “The insights from this research can help our merchants, both big and small, build better businesses,” added White. “Based on these findings, merchants can re-evaluate their sales training and marketing to better attract consumers and help them make informed choices.”