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The austerity policies of the UK government, along with continuing economic worries in the country, have forced UK consumers to be more cautious when making purchases. According to a January 2013 survey from Epsilon, a marketing services firm, 57% of UK respondents chose to shop around for the best bargains, while only 15% said they were still willing to spend extra to purchase luxury branded items.
Digital shopping is making bargain hunting all the easier. The study found that 38% of UK consumers used online search engines to get info related to a purchase decision or to sign up for a product or service. And nearly as many (37%) read ratings and reviews websites for this purpose, while another 17% went to online communities and discussion forums.
Further solidifying the web’s key role in comparison shopping, loyalty management company Aimia found in December 2012 that about half of UK internet users used price-comparison sites and 42% used auction sites like eBay.
And while today’s UK consumers may be on the perpetual hunt for a good bargain, they still want to be rewarded for brand loyalty. According to Aimia, 64% of UK shoppers actively used rewards programs, and a greater proportion—78%—said they collected points whenever they could. Moreover, a considerable two-thirds said they used vouchers or coupons while shopping.
Mobile devices are helping to further accelerate the shift toward comparison shopping. Nielsen found that in 2012, 26% of smartphone users in the UK shopped via mobile. And among mobile shoppers, price comparison is top of mind. Research firm Foresee found that 34% of UK mobile shoppers accessed a competitor’s site in-store in December 2012 and 16% accessed a shopping comparison site.
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