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Empowered Consumer - UK - September 2010

In theory, today’s consumers have more choices and more power than ever before. They can research products and services thoroughly before making a purchase decision, for example, by using price comparison sites and online reviews from other users. After purchasing they can then use online communities to spread the word about products and services, good and bad.
But what do consumers really think about all the choices and information available to them?

  • The ability to research products thoroughly has given consumers a great deal of power. Today, three quarters of consumers do a lot of research when making major purchases, weighing up all considerations before buying.
  • A key downside of consumer empowerment is confusion. Three in ten consumers find it confusing to search online for the best deals and special offers, whilst 12.9 million admit that they sometimes get bogged down in research.
  • When it comes to face-to-face advice, consumers place greater value on advice from people they know. 46% of consumers take advice from friends/family members before making a major purchase, whereas only a third seek advice from sales advisers/professionals.
  • User reviews are an important tool for the empowered consumer but trust is a key issue. Some 13.2 million consumers do not always trust reviews on third party websites such as TripAdvisor and Amazon. For companies’ own websites this figure is even high at 20.3 million.
  • Online research is by no means just a tool for the young. In fact, when it comes to certain purchases it is older consumers who are more likely to do their research online. For example, 70% of over-35s who have bought domestic appliances in the last six months carried out online research, compared to 60% of under-35s.
  • Spreading the word is a powerful phenomenon amongst consumers: 30.8 million consumers let friends and family know if they have enjoyed a product or service, whilst 29.6 million do the same for negative experiences. 37% consumers have posted comments or reviews online, increasing to 47% amongst under 35s.

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Table of contents

  1. Issues in the Market

      • Methodology
        • Lifestage groups
          • Abbreviations
          • Future Opportunities

            • ‘Help me choose – but don’t patronise me’
              • That’s entertainment
              • Market in Brief

                • No shortage of information, but is there too much?...
                  • ... and who to trust?
                    • Making connections
                      • Spreading the word
                        • Keeping the tech customer satisfied
                          • Domestic appliances: Mother (or father) knows best
                            • Younger women, older men, are most comfortable with finance
                              • Nurture the automotive enthusiasts
                                • Reward young women for spreading the word about style
                                  • TripAdvisor or travel agent?
                                    • Eating tweets
                                      • Parent power
                                      • Shopping Styles

                                        • Key points
                                          • Major purchases: Elements in the decision-making process
                                            • Figure 1: Agreement/disagreement with statements on making major purchases, July 2010
                                          • The role of research
                                            • Price vs impulse
                                              • Special offers and promotions
                                                • Figure 2: Agreement/disagreement with statements on special offers/promotions and product reviews, July 2010
                                              • User reviews
                                                • Shopping style target groups
                                                  • Figure 3: Shopping style target groups, July 2010
                                                • Careful Researchers
                                                  • Research Avoiders
                                                    • Dazed & Confused
                                                      • Open To Offers
                                                        • Cagey Consumers
                                                            • Figure 4: Shopping style target groups, by demographic sub-group, July 2010
                                                        • Networking Styles

                                                          • Key points
                                                            • Friendship patterns
                                                              • Figure 5: Agreement/disagreement with statements on friendship patterns, July 2010
                                                            • Sharing opinions
                                                              • Figure 6: Agreement/disagreement with statements on sharing opinions, July 2010
                                                            • Networking target groups
                                                              • Figure 7: Networking target groups, July 2010
                                                            • Outreachers
                                                              • Quiet Communicators
                                                                • Private People
                                                                    • Figure 8: Networking target groups, by demographic sub-group, July 2010
                                                                  • Spreading the word: How do they network?
                                                                    • Figure 9: Agreement/disagreement with statements on spreading the word about products and services, July 2010
                                                                  • The effect of networking style
                                                                    • Figure 10: Spreading the word about products and services, by networking taret groups, July 2010
                                                                  • The effect of shopping style
                                                                    • Figure 11: Spreading the word about products and services, by shopping style target groups, July 2010
                                                                  • Networking methods
                                                                    • Figure 12: Mode of informing friends/family of personal opinion on something bought or experienced, by networking target groups, July 2010
                                                                    • Figure 13: Social networking and email as mode of informing friends/family of personal opinion on something bought or experienced, by networking target groups, July 2010
                                                                  • The expert shopper
                                                                    • What do they know about?
                                                                      • Figure 14: Level of information/advice on buying selected products/services, July 2010
                                                                    • Expert consumers by shopping style
                                                                      • Figure 15: Those able to give ‘a lot’ of information/advice on buying selected products/services, by shopping style target groups, July 2010
                                                                      • Figure 16: Number of types of information/advice able to give on buying the listed products/services, by shopping style target groups, July 2010
                                                                    • Expert shoppers by networking style
                                                                      • Figure 17: Those able to give ‘a lot’ of information/advice on buying selected products/services, by networking target groups, July 2010
                                                                      • Figure 18: Number of types of information/advice able to give on buying the listed products/services, by networking target groups, July 2010
                                                                    • How do they research their purchases?
                                                                      • Figure 19: Modes of advice used before buying the listed products/services in the last six months, July 2010
                                                                    • Online research
                                                                      • Face-to-face research
                                                                        • The role of the money-off voucher
                                                                        • Technology and Audio-visual Products

                                                                          • Key points
                                                                            • Who are the Tech Experts?
                                                                              • Figure 20: Tech experts, by age and gender, July 2010
                                                                            • Buying technology products: The research process
                                                                              • Figure 21: The research process when buying technology and audio-visual items in the last months, July 2010
                                                                            • What do the experts do?
                                                                              • Figure 22: The research process for technology products bought in the last six months, by expert shoppers, July 2010
                                                                            • Buying technology products: The decision-making process
                                                                                • Figure 23: The decision-making process when buying technology and audio-visual items in the last six months, July 2010
                                                                              • Qualitative findings
                                                                              • The Domestic Sphere

                                                                                • Key points
                                                                                  • Who are the domestic experts?
                                                                                    • Figure 24: Domestic experts, by age and gender, July 2010
                                                                                  • Food and grocery products
                                                                                    • Domestic appliances
                                                                                      • Buying domestic appliances: The research process
                                                                                        • Figure 25: The research process when buying domestic appliances in the last six months, July 2010
                                                                                      • Online vs face-to-face research
                                                                                        • Buying domestic appliances: The decision-making process
                                                                                          • Figure 26: The decision-making process when buying domestic appliances in the last six months, July 2010
                                                                                        • Qualitative findings
                                                                                        • Finance

                                                                                          • Key points
                                                                                            • Buying financial products: the research process
                                                                                              • Figure 27: The research process when buying financial products in the last six months, July 2010
                                                                                            • Online vs face-to-face research
                                                                                              • Figure 28: Online vs face-to-face research when buying financial products in the last six months, by age group, July 2010
                                                                                            • Buying financial products: The decision-making process
                                                                                              • Figure 29: The decision-making process when buying financial products in the last six months, July 2010
                                                                                            • Qualitative findings
                                                                                            • Cars

                                                                                              • Key points
                                                                                                • Who are the automotive experts?
                                                                                                  • Figure 30: Automotive experts, by age and gender, July 2010
                                                                                                • Buying a car: The research process
                                                                                                    • Figure 31: The research process when buying cars in the last six months, July 2010
                                                                                                  • Buying a car: The decision-making process
                                                                                                    • Figure 32: The decision-making process when buying cars in the last six months, July 2010
                                                                                                  • Qualitative findings
                                                                                                  • Fashion and Beauty

                                                                                                    • Key points
                                                                                                      • Who are the fashion and beauty experts?
                                                                                                        • Figure 33: Fashion and beauty experts, women by age group, July 2010
                                                                                                      • Buying clothes: The research process
                                                                                                        • Figure 34: The research process when buying clothes in the last six months, July 2010
                                                                                                      • Online vs face-to-face research
                                                                                                        • The role of money-off vouchers
                                                                                                          • What do the fashion experts do?
                                                                                                            • Buying clothes: The decision-making process
                                                                                                              • Figure 35: The decision-making process when buying clothes in the last six months, July 2010
                                                                                                          • Holidays

                                                                                                            • Key points
                                                                                                              • Who are the ‘holiday experts’?
                                                                                                                • Figure 36: Holiday experts, by age group, July 2010
                                                                                                              • Buying holidays/short breaks: The research process
                                                                                                                • Figure 37: The research process when buying holidays and short breaks in the last six months, July 2010
                                                                                                              • Online vs face-to-face research
                                                                                                                  • Figure 38: Online vs face-to-face research when choosing holidays or short breaks in the last six months, July 2010
                                                                                                                • Buying holidays/short breaks: The decision-making process
                                                                                                                  • Figure 39: The decision-making process when buying holidays and short breaks in the last six months, July 2010
                                                                                                                • Qualitative findings
                                                                                                                • Other Leisure Pursuits

                                                                                                                  • Key points
                                                                                                                    • Who are the leisure experts?
                                                                                                                      • Figure 40: Leisure experts, by age group, July 2010
                                                                                                                    • Choosing leisure activities: The research process
                                                                                                                      • Eating out
                                                                                                                        • Days out
                                                                                                                          • Music/theatre
                                                                                                                            • Figure 41: The research process when buying leisure activities in the last six months, July 2010
                                                                                                                          • Online vs face-to-face research, and money-off vouchers
                                                                                                                            • Days out
                                                                                                                              • Meals out
                                                                                                                                • Music/theatre
                                                                                                                                  • What do the experts do?
                                                                                                                                    • Figure 42: The research process, and the role of vouchers, for leisure pursuits in the last six months – expert shoppers, July 2010
                                                                                                                                  • Choosing leisure activities: The decision-making process
                                                                                                                                    • Figure 43: The decision-making process when buying leisure activities in the last six months, July 2010
                                                                                                                                • Consumer Power Through the Lifestages

                                                                                                                                  • Key points
                                                                                                                                    • Big Kids
                                                                                                                                      • Cohabitees
                                                                                                                                        • Two-Earner Working Parents
                                                                                                                                          • Put-Upon Parents
                                                                                                                                              • Figure 44: Demographic profile of lifestage groups, July 2010
                                                                                                                                            • Twitter or Facebook?
                                                                                                                                            • How Empowered Are We?

                                                                                                                                              • Appendix – Shopping Styles

                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 45: Agreement/disagreement with statements on special offers/promotions and product reviews, by shopping style target groups, July 2010
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 46: Agreement/disagreement with statements on making major purchases, by shopping style target groups, July 2010
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 47: Most popular attitudes towards making major purchases (any agree), by demographic sub-group, July 2010
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 48: Next most popular attitudes towards making major purchases (any agree), by demographic sub-group, July 2010
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 49: Most popular attitudes towards special offers/promotions and product reviews (any agree), by demographic sub-group, July 2010
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 50: Next most popular attitudes towards special offers/promotions and product reviews (any agree), by demographic sub-group, July 2010
                                                                                                                                              • Appendix – Networking Styles

                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 51: Agreement/disagreement with statements on sharing opinions, by networking target groups, July 2010
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 52: Friendship patterns, by networking target groups, July 2010
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 53: Most popular attitudes towards friendship patterns (any agree), by demographic sub-group, July 2010
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 54: Next most popular attitudes towards friendship patterns (any agree), by demographic sub-group, July 2010
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 55: Most popular attitudes on sharing opinions (any agree), by demographic sub-group, July 2010
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 56: Next most popular attitudes on sharing opinions, by demographic sub-group, July 2010
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 57: Most popular attitudes on spreading the word about products and services (any agree), by demographic sub-group, July 2010
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 58: Next most popular attitudes on spreading the word about products and services (any agree), by demographic sub-group, July 2010
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 59: Social networking and email as mode of informing friends/family of personal opinion on something bought or experienced, by demographic sub-group, July 2010
                                                                                                                                              • Technology and Audio-visual Products

                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 60: Those who are able to give ‘a lot’ of information about technology and audio-visual items, by demographic sub-group, July 2010
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 61: Online vs face-to-face research when buying tvs/audio-visual equipment in the last six months, by demographic sub-group, July 2010
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 62: Online vs face-to-face research when buying Smartphones in the last six months, by demographic sub-group, July 2010
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 63: Online vs face-to-face research when buying other mobile phones in the last six months, by demographic sub-group, July 2010
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 64: Online vs face-to-face research when buying computers/laptops in the last six months, by demographic sub-group, July 2010
                                                                                                                                              • Appendix – The Domestic Sphere

                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 65: Those who are able to give ‘a lot’ of information about groceries and kitchen appliances, by demographic sub-group, july 2010
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 66: Online vs face-to-face research when buying domestic appliances in the last six months, by demographic sub-group, July 2010
                                                                                                                                              • Appendix – Finance

                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 67: Online vs face-to-face research when buying financial products in the last six months, by demographic sub-group, July 2010
                                                                                                                                              • Appendix – Cars

                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 68: Those who are able to give ‘a lot’ of information about buying cars, by demographic sub-group, July 2010
                                                                                                                                              • Appendix – Fashion and Beauty

                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 69: Those who are able to give ‘a lot’ of information about clothes and toiletries/cosmetics, by demographic sub-group, July 2010
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 70: Online vs face-to-face research, and the role of money-off vouchers, when buying clothes in the last six months, by demographic sub-group, July 2010
                                                                                                                                              • Appendix – Holidays

                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 71: Those who are able to give ‘a lot’ of information about holidays and short breaks, by demographic sub-group, July 2010
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 72: Online vs face-to-face research when choosing holidays in the last six months, by demographic sub-group, July 2010
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 73: Online vs face-to-face research when choosing short breaks in the last six months, by demographic sub-group, July 2010
                                                                                                                                              • Appendix – Other Leisure Pursuits

                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 74: Those who are able to give ‘a lot’ of information about leisure pursuits, by demographic sub-group, July 2010
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 75: Online vs face-to-face research, and the role of money-off vouchers, when choosing days out in the last six months, by demographic sub-group, July 2010
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 76: Online vs face-to-face research, and the role of money-off vouchers, when choosing meals out in the last six months, by demographic sub-group, July 2010
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 77: Online vs face-to-face research when choosing theatre and music performances in the last six months, by demographic sub-group, July 2010
                                                                                                                                              • Appendix – Consumer Power Through the Lifestages

                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 78: Demographic profile of Facebook and Twitter users, July 2010
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 79: Spreading the word about products and services, by lifestage group, July 2010
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 80: Spreading the word about products and services, by Facebook/Twitter usage, July 2010
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 81: Social networking and email as mode of informing friends/family of personal opinion on something bought or experienced, by lifestage groups and Facebook/Twitter usage, July 2010
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 82: Those able to give ‘a lot’ of information/advice on buying selected products/services, by lifestage group, July 2010
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 83: Those able to give ‘a lot’ of information/advice on buying selected products/services, by Facebook/Twitter usage, July 2010

                                                                                                                                              Empowered Consumer - UK - September 2010

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