After a need is recognized, the prospective consumer may information to help identify and evaluate alternative products, services, and outlets that will meet that need. Such information can come from family, friends, personal observation, or other sources, such as Consumer Reports, salespeople, or mass media. The promotional component of the marketers offering is aimed at providing information to assist the consumer in their problem solving process. In some cases, the consumer already has the needed information based on past purchasing and consumption experience. Bad experiences and lack of satisfaction can destroy repeat purchases. The consumer with a need for tires may look for information in the local newspaper or ask friends for recommendation. If he has bought tires before and was satisfied, he may go to the same dealer and buy the same brand.
Information search can also identify new needs. As a tire shopper looks for information, she may decide that the tires are not the real problem, that the need is for a new car. At this point, the perceived need may change triggering a new information search.
Information search involves mental as well as the physical activities that consumers must perform in order to make decisions and accomplish desired goals in the marketplace. It takes time, energy, money, and can often involve foregoing more desirable activities. The benefits of information search, however, can outweigh the costs. For example, engaging in a thorough information search may save money, improve quality of selection, or reduce risks. As noted in the integrated marketing box, the Internet is a valuable information source.
Kids are hooked online
These days, practically even the tiniest of tykes is tech-savvy. It is no wonder. There are computers in elementary schools, computer games, and, of course, there is educational software.
Kids spend a lot of time online, not just at school, but also at home, for social interaction and entertainment. According to market researcher Teen Research Unlimited, 62 per cent of teenagers say they log on at home for 4.2 hours a week, while 46 per cent spend 2.3 hours a week using a computer outside the home. Teens say they spend most of their online time doing research (72 per cent), sending and reading email (63 per cent), playing games (28 per cent), and checking out things to buy or making purchases (23 per cent).
Internet consultancy Cyber Dialogue Data reveals the number of teenagers going online at least once a month grew by nearly 270 per cent between 1998 and 1999. That frequency, coupled with the fact that 19 per cent of these kids have a credit card in his or her own name and 9 per cent have access to a parent's card to shop online, adds up to a huge customer base for Internet marketers.
Snowball.com is a portal that claims to serve both Gen Y and Gen X youth. It includes ChickClick.com for young women, IGN.com for young men, PowerStudents.com for high school and college students, and InsideGuide.com for college students. The portal has inked deals with major marketers, including Sony, Toyota, and Pillsbury. The site also has received a lot of interest from the entertainment world. 1