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Mobile indispensable research tool for South Korean youth

  • Globally, 29% people made their last product purchase online
  • In South Korea, 50% people made their last purchase online

You might be tempted to think that people in tech-advanced Asia-Pacific countries are most likely to own lots of different devices. In reality, it’s Europeans with nearly half of them (48 per cent) using three or more devices. Incredibly, 29 per cent of Norwegians and 29 per cent of Dutch people use five devices or more. 24 per cent of South Koreans use four devices or more. In contrast, only 10 per cent of Chinese people use four devices or more.

There’s also lots of data about how smartphones have changed our world. Think that only young people love their smartphones? Well, in Israel 61 per cent of people aged 55 and over use a smartphone (compared to 77 per cent of 25-34 year olds), and in Sweden that number is a staggering 64 per cent.

In many countries, people love their smartphones so much that they go online more often on smartphones than computers.

Percentage of internet users who go online more often via smartphone than computer/ tablet
team google korea chart

Source: Think with Google APAC

With consumers using multiple devices to stay connected, are you doing the same? The Consumer Barometer provides the insights that allow you to understand when, how and why people use the internet and can assist with your planning and decision-making.

With connection comes commerce
Whether it’s an everyday purchase or researching a big-ticket item, people turn to their devices almost instinctively during these key moments. In the emerging markets, smartphones have become invaluable as a research tool. For example, among internet users who researched their last purchase online, 45 per cent of Malaysians and 40 per cent of Filipinos used their smartphone to research. In the Middle East, these figures are even higher – 80 per cent of Saudis and 57 per cent of people in the UAE used their smartphones to research before buying.

In South Korea, people still like to use their computers to research – with 76 per cent of those who researched a recent purchase online, using a desktop or laptop. However this is changing. 71 per cent of under 25s who researched a recent purchase used a smartphone. Mobile devices have become an indispensable research tool for younger South Koreans.

People are not just researching online, purchasing online is more popular than ever. Globally, 62 per cent of internet users either researched or purchased their last product online. Almost a quarter both researched online and purchased online. Globally, 29 per cent made their last product purchase online.

When looking at a country level, across the 20 product categories that we covered, the top online purchasers are South Korea (50 per cent of internet users), the UK (46 per cent) and Japan (44 per cent). However percentages are also high across the Nordics – 38 per cent of internet users in Sweden made their last purchase online. South Korea is very high with 50 per cent making their last purchase online – and this is high across all age groups with 56 per cent of 25-34 year-old internet users making their last purchase online and 41 per cent of those aged 55 and over.

Percentage of internet users who made a recent purchase online
Source: Think with Google APAC

Source: Think with Google APAC

The internet has placed the world at our fingertips, and consumers use the internet to explore locally, nationally and internationally at key moments during their path to purchase. When they’re researching locally, people are usually looking for a particular product or service (35 per cent) or planning an activity (30 per cent).

On the other hand, people are prepared to look further afield and consider options abroad if they find an appealing offer (36 per cent) or better availability (33 per cent). In fact, globally, 57 per cent of us have bought something online from a foreign country. In some countries, the levels of international purchases are even higher – it’s 85 per cent in Ireland, 84 per cent in Australia and 83 per cent in Singapore.

Percentage of internet users who have purchased products online from abroad
Source: Think with Google APAC

Source: Think with Google APAC

South Korea’s rates of international purchase (53 per cent) are below the global average (57 per cent), but again, this is changing with younger people far more likely to have bought a product from overseas. 61 per cent of South Korean internet users aged 25-34 have bought something online from a foreign country.

The Consumer Barometer shows that in this hyper-connected world, the internet has become crucial for shaping preferences and helping people make decisions about what to buy from both home and abroad. Over half of all internet users are now researching or purchasing online. Are you present in all of the moments that matter to your consumer? Using these insights to create an integrated marketing strategy can help you reach more of the right people, with the right message, at the right time.

‘Living online’ has fundamentally changed viewing behaviour
People love online video. 51 per cent of internet users in Mexico and 50 per cent in Brazil watch online video every day. It’s popular in Asia-Pacific too – with 51 per cent of internet users in Singapore and 50 per cent in Thailand doing the same. In South Korea, it’s young internet users who are the biggest fans – with 47 per cent of under 25s watching online video every day.

People are watching these videos everywhere and on everything – smartphones, tablets and computers. 47 per cent of Saudis who access the internet on their smartphones watch online videos on them every day and 35 per cent of Argentinians who access the internet via their tablets, watch online videos on their tablets every day.

When it comes to specific platforms, YouTube has become part of the daily routine for many with 50 per cent of internet users in Thailand using YouTube every single day. When it comes to using different devices nearly half of tablet-using Saudis (49 per cent) watch online videos on YouTube via their tablets and 45 per cent of Saudi smartphone users watch YouTube on their smartphones every day.

Although people mainly watch online videos for relaxation, an increasing number watch so that they can be informed too. When asked why they watched online video in the last week, 33 per cent of internet users in the Philippines and 30 per cent in Vietnam said they did so to find information about products. Online video is an increasingly important way of connecting with consumers, and this is especially true in some emerging markets where researching products through online videos is more prevalent.

Percentage of people who watched online video for product information (among those who watched online video in the past week)

Source: Think with Google APAC

Source: Think with Google APAC

The Consumer Barometer also dispels the myth that people watching online video are easily distracted. Globally, 61 per cent said they were fully or mainly focused on the videos they were watching.10 This high level of focus is not specific to a single region: it holds true in every part of the world, suggesting that online video provides a great opportunity to reach an attentive audience. Of those who watched online videos, 73 per cent in Germany said they were fully or mainly focused on what they were last watching, 66 per cent in America and 68 per cent in Vietnam.10 In South Korea, levels of focus are fair, reaching 49 per cent.

To learn more, please visit Think with Google APAC.

This article has been authored by Google APAC.