Ninety per cent of European Internet users go online weekly to search for information. More than 4 out of 10 consumers search for information on brands and products via comparison, expert and user review sites.

Meanwhile the Web is the platform for a lively peer-to-peer economy, a third of European Internet users have sold something to another user via online classified or auction sites. These are results of the MC DC report (Marketers & Consumers, Digital & Connected), conducted in 16 European countries.

The MC DC report is based on quantitative and qualitative research results, supplemented by secondary sources, expertise and cases. Quantitatively, in co-operation with IAB Europe, an online survey was conducted among 32,000 Internet users (15+) in 16 countries, and a bulletin board of 200 European digital media users was used over a period of 6 weeks.

A bulletin board is an online qualitative research method which allows us to obtain useful views through discussions with several participants over a longer period. All research data was collected in June and July 2009.

Top 10 search results rule

Ninety per cent of European Internet users go online weekly to search for information, and 6 out 10 even do so daily. Most searches aim at finding information on hobbies, personal points of interest, and general news. The Internet is also often used to find information on products, services and brands in general.

Search engines play an important part in every step of the purchase process: 59% of Internet users search at least on a weekly basis for products or services they wish to buy.

But surfers are impatient. They do not want to browse several search results pages and are demanding when working with search engines. They expect the top of the list to contain the most relevant search results, since 41% gives up after checking the first 10 search results, 7 out of 10 gives up after scanning 20 search results.

The We-factor of e-commerce

Several trends have led to changed consumer behaviour, including social networking, conversing, sharing, tagging, content generation, and community participation. These activities have seriously influenced consumers’ buying behaviour as well. Nowadays, it is more DCC – “discovery”, “comparison”, and “conversation”.

Consumers are well connected and have a much wider range of tools available in the pre-buying phases. The huge number of customer rating and review sites mean that e-commerce has become “we-commerce”, allowing consumers to evaluate brand alternatives before buying.

This phenomenon clearly influences consumer buying behaviour. Across product categories, more than 4 out of 10 consumers search for information on brands and products via comparison, expert and user review sites.

1 out of 3 Internet users sells online

The P2P economy is consumers doing business with other consumers via the Worldwide Web, the biggest market place that ever existed. In the past 12 months (summer 2008 – summer 2009), 32% of European Internet users sold something to another internet user via online classified or auction sites. 14% even sold 4 or more items over the past year. Only Southern Europe is a little behind compared to other regions.

The research shows that online trade between consumers will continue to take place on a small scale in online communities, chat rooms, third-party consumers listing services, and Web-based discussion forums.