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Here are a few things businesses can learn from Google's Consumer Barometer (for free)

So Google knows almost everything about how you shop, which is a bit creepy really…

GOOGLE’S CONSUMER BAROMETER has been running for a few years now, although you would be easily forgiven for knowing nothing about it given the minimal attention it has received.

But since it was given a reboot this week with fresh 2014 data, now is a good time to look at how Irish businesses can exploit the free tool to learn more about their customers.

Google surveyed some 150,000 people in 46 countries to put its barometer into action and the responses have been crunched to provide information about things like peoples’ internet behaviour, or their video-watching habits.

From this we get the probably meaningless, but slightly-interesting insight that Irish people have the sixth-highest rate of “multi-screening” (watching several things at once) out of all the surveyed nations.

But more importantly for businesses, Google also probed how customers made the decisions about what they would buy – and then where they spent their money once their mind was made up.

Ok, get to the point…

Put simply, the tool lets anyone delve into the data any which way they like. Want to know how many brands the typical male, home-appliance buyer considers before making a purchase?

Thought you did, so here’s the answer in a colourful graph:

Google2 Google Consumer Barometer Google Consumer Barometer

Google Ireland head of sales Cera Ward said most local businesses were still “playing catch up” with their customers, who were making the most of the internet for their shopping.

But she said the barometer would give them an easy way to look at consumer behaviour and tailor their businesses to what customers were after.

Enough chit-chat, here’s a few lessons that businesses can take away from crunching the survey numbers:

1. Sure you can advertise, but past experience is king

For most Irish people, the first information they got about something they later bought came through their personal experience. In comparison, only 10% said they first heard of the product through advertising. Have a look:

image (4) Google Consumer Barometer, Google Consumer Barometer,

Grocery shoppers and people booking flights for leisure were the most likely to rely on previous experience, while pre-purchase research was the way to go when shopping for expensive goods like home appliances and televisions.

2. If your mobile website doesn’t work, fix it. Fix it now

Nearly two thirds of shoppers said they used the internet to do research before making a purchase, while one third actually bought the item online.

But despite all that time browsing, shoppers were still loyal to bricks and mortar with 43% saying they went into a shop to hand over their cash after doing the legwork on the web.

When smartphone users ran into problems with a business website, however, a quarter of all respondents said they would just switch to a competitor’s page – so get that mobile page working, people.

Phone Animated GIF Giphy Giphy

3. Customer service is not dead

Surprisingly, given that we live in the internet age and all, the survey found only slightly more people used online research than offline tools when making a recent shopping decision.

Some 60% said they did at least some offline research while 19% relied exclusively on that information.

So where are people going to do that offline research? Better work on those sales skills, because 60% (again) of shoppers said they relied on in-store information for their purchase decision.

California Animated GIF Giphy Giphy

The vast majority of those who researched products in-store then completed those purchases in-store – compared to a minority who ended up buying online anyway.

Last graph, we promise:

image (3) Google Consumer Barometer, Google Consumer Barometer,

READ: Here’s what we buy most at the shops – but what’s Ireland’s favourite tea? >

READ: Irish consumers not so happy, but thanks for asking >

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