Most enterprises have access to information platforms that make it easier than ever to build compelling business. One thing traditional and digital marketing have in common is the need for continual market research. After all, it’s important to keep up with what the customer wants.

consumer search

Traditionally, research would be done by directly collecting information from customers. For example, you may ask those who have interacted with your business to fill in a survey, rating such factors as the quality of service.

In the digital age however, with Google receiving over 40,000 searches each day for goods, services, and information, the hot question in marketing is: what are people looking up?

Why is SEO so important? It will put your web page in a great position if you are able to provide helpful answers to the questions users have. Google these days takes very kindly to content that can specifically match a user intention. This will put you where you want to be in the search engine’s top ranked results.

Consumer information search (CIS) has caught the attention of economists, consumer and brand psychologists, market researchers, businesses, and other parties. This refers to the process by which we collect information from different sources, to consider it together and be empowered to make a choice.

Different theories about what drives consumer search are coming out of marketing journals, and have been the basis for some studies. Here are just a few interesting takes on it…

1. Cost-benefit analysis
Lisa Kley and Gary Ford suggest that many of us search with ‘cost-benefit’ at the back of our minds. That is, weighing up whether the outcome is going to be worth what we’re putting in. For example, is the benefit, like a purchase, worth the time we’ve spent waiting for the web page to load? There are many other such factors taken into account.

2. Search styles
Another line of research suggests we can be categorized according to our search styles. Each of these are based on how we decide if information is credible.

• Remote searcher – trusting the credibility of a brand without directly checking it out. In other words, a preceding reputation.

• In-person searcher – directly inspecting a source to decide if the information is credible.

• Experience searcher – deciding if a product or service is trustworthy only after purchase and testing it out IRL.

Which one are you?

On top of this, some suggest our personality traits affect what information we search for as well as how we make decisions about what we see.

3. Type of information
A third line of thought is that there are different types of information, and that we all take a preference to one of these, according to various factors, including personality. These are…

• Fame info
• Visual info
• Comparison info
• E-word-of-mouth, and
• Promotional info

It’s been noted that when it comes to online shopping of fashion and related items, we tend to prefer information about others’ experiences including e-word-of-mouth, over official information provided by the business. And when it comes to basic details about the stuff we’re looking up, we tend to turn to visual information to get the idea… so images are always important.

As you can see, there are several complicated things involved in answering this seemingly simple question of what consumers are searching for. We believe the digital marketing landscape is only going to keep changing, not just with the shift in technology and our online behaviours, but as our understanding about online decision making deepens.