Consumers Want Maximum Value in Minimum Time

A study by Synchrony Financial shows that consumers are spending more time researching major purchases online, but less time overall in making a final purchase decision.

Empowered with research, reviews and real-time discount information, shoppers making purchases of $500 or more are more decisive and deal-oriented than ever before, according to Synchrony Financial’s Fifth Annual Major Purchase Consumer Study.

More major purchase shoppers report starting and ending their shopping journey online this year and spending less time on the path to purchase than in the past. As part of this year’s study, Synchrony Financial, a premier consumer financial services company with 80 years of heritage, explored shopping and spending preferences and the path to making a major purchase across 13 categories: appliances; automotive service and products; electronics; eyewear; fine jewelry; flooring; home improvement; furnishings; bedding and mattresses; lawn and garden; musical instruments; sewing; and sports and fitness equipment.

“Major purchase shoppers are seeking maximum value in minimal time, taking a multi-faceted approach to navigate information and narrow options,” said Bart Schaller, EVP and chief marketing officer, Synchrony Financial. “Although shoppers are more decisive, they remain cautious about spending and carefully consider where to buy based on deal, product and financing availability.”

Key Findings

The major purchase journey is declining to 63 days spent on average, down five days from 2015 and 17 days from 2014.

More shoppers (85%) report starting their research online compared to 80% last year.

The research process spans multiple digital assets as nearly 68% of shoppers surveyed visited the retailer’s website, more than 60% used search engines, over half also viewed the manufacturer’s site, and approximately 40% used aggregators to compare products and reviews.

In-store visits were the second step in the journey of 70% of major purchase shoppers, and 28% returned and used their mobile device while in the store.

Nearly one-third researched financing options and 60% decided on payment method before entering the store to buy.

Online purchasing among major purchase shoppers surveyed rose to 18% from 13% last year, driven by product availability, better deals and value, and ease and convenience.

Most shoppers (82%) purchased in-store, reflecting the preference of buyers who want to interact with a store associate, see the product and take it home the same day.

Role of Financing

Financing is an important consideration in merchant selection, and nearly half of all shoppers surveyed report they would not have made the purchase or would have gone to another retailer if financing were not available.

A higher percentage of respondents who are not Synchrony Bank cardholders (43%) reported awareness of financing options compared to last year (36%), indicating retailers are better integrating credit information across multiple channels.

Among Synchrony cardholders surveyed, 78% said they “always” seek promotional financing when making a purchase and 90% confirm that special promotional financing makes larger purchases more affordable.