Which E-Commerce Product Categories Are Growing in Favor With Consumers?

September 2, 2014

Nielsen-Online-Purchase-Intent-by-Category-Region-Sept2014Consumers around the world tend to be more likely to shop for than buy products online, although the gap between browsing and buying is relatively small for most product categories, according to a new study [download page] from Nielsen. In its analysis of 22 B2C product categories, Nielsen found buying intentions to be as high as browsing behavior in 13, with more buying than browsing in only  one. That said, purchase intentions are on the rise.

Looking at the global average across 60 markets surveyed, the study reveals that the largest percentage point increases in online purchase intentions are for:

  • Event tickets, with 41% planning to purchase online in the next 6 months, up from 22% in 2011;
  • E-books (34%, up from 15% in 2011);
  • Computer software (27%, up from 9%);
  • Tours and hotel reservations (44%, up from 27%); and
  • Sporting goods (31%, up from 15%).

Those aren’t necessarily the categories with the widest purchase intent, though. Respondents were most likely to say they’d purchase airline tickets and reservations (48%, up from 33%) and clothing, accessories and shoes (46%, up from 42%). By comparison, purchase intent is lowest for car, motorcycle and accessories and alcoholic drinks (each at 17%), although buying intent has more than doubled for each since 2011.

Looking at the most popular online buying categories across various regions, the study indicates that buying intentions are highest almost across-the-board in the Asia-Pacific region, with North America leading only for videos, DVDs and games and flowers.

Within the US, while shopping intent is higher than buying intent for most categories, those with the highest purchase intent are:

  • Clothing, accessories and shoes (43%);
  • Airline tickets / reservations (43%);
  • Tours / hotel reservations (43%);
  • Ebooks (35%);
  • Event tickets (movie, performance / exhibition / game, etc.; 34%); and
  • Videos/DVDs/Games (not downloaded; 34%).

Recent data from comScore shows that desktop-based retail e-commerce spending in the US has consistently been rising at double-digit rates, while mobile commerce is growing even more quickly.

About the Data: The Nielsen Global Survey of E-commerce was conducted between Feb. 17 and March 7, 2014, and polled more than 30,000 consumers in 60 countries throughout Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and North America. The sample has quotas based on age and sex for each country based on its internet users and is weighted to be representative of Internet consumers. It has a margin of error of ±0.6 percent. The Nielsen survey is based only on the behavior of respondents with online access. Internet penetration rates vary by country. Nielsen uses a minimum reporting standard of 60% internet penetration or an online population of 10 million for survey inclusion.

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