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ENTERING GLOBAL MARKETS

4 Things to Know About Global Consumers

Do consumers around the world shop the same way Americans do? A recent Nielsen study finds they do--and they don't--in some important ways.

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When it comes to global commerce, customers are different no matter where you go, right? They are and they aren't, according to a recent Nielsen global survey.

Customs, predilections, and beliefs do vary, as you know if you've done any international travel at all. (Just look at the role of women in different societies.) Still, underlying principles are largely the same, according to the Nielsen survey of more than 29,000 people across 58 countries:

With seven billion people living in the world, new findings from a Nielsen global survey revealed that when it comes to core fundamental lifestyle values centered on family, education or religious aspirations, we are more alike than we are different.

And yet, there are major differences in how people shop and behave as consumers. Fail to grasp this and your global plans could end up on a detour. Here are some of the big areas where one customer won't act like another.

Impulse spending

On the average, about a third of respondents said that they often bought things they did not need and tried products earlier than others. That number jumps to 40 percent in Asia Pacific and to 39 percent in the Middle East and Africa. Some of the top countries for impulse buying were China (44 percent), India (48 percent), and Thailand (52 percent), where discretionary income is up and many more people can afford to purchase things beyond basics. In terms of people preferring to purchase and try products before others--that is, to be early adopters--the percentage in India was 56 percent, while it was 53 percent in China and 46 percent in Indonesia. Egypt and Saudi Arabia were 42 percent for impulse spending and 46 percent for early adoption.

Brand image

A global average of 44 percent of people were willing to spend more for designer products. In Asia Pacific, the number jumps to 61 percent: 74 percent in China, 59 percent in India, 56 percent in Vietnam, and 52 percent in South Korea. About 58 percent in Brazil would pay more.

When asked about the statement, "I like to buy products of famous brands," 74 percent in India agreed. Also agreeing were 74 percent of Romanians, 73 percent of Vietnamese, 62 percent of Chinese, and 62 percent of Pakistanis.

Quality is a must

High quality products were important all across the globe, with an average of 78 percent. The figure jumped to 83 percent in Latin America and 82 percent in Asia-Pacific.

Store promotions

Price promotions were least important in North America (31 percent) and Europe (43 percent). About 68 percent of respondents in Latin America were particularly interested in seeing in-store promotions. The number was 57 percent in Asia-Pacific and 51 percent in Middle East/Africa. But you can't treat any region as a monolith. In-store promotions were also particularly important in Italy (76 percent) and Spain (65 percent). Russia, Brazil, Peru, and Israel ranged from 72 percent to 74 percent.

It's worth registering for and downloading a copy of the report, as there are other useful statistics like top purchase criteria and sources of information by region for different product categories.

Last updated: Jul 16, 2013

ERIK SHERMAN's work has appeared in such publications as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times Magazine, and Fortune. He also blogs for CBS MoneyWatch.
@ErikSherman




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