Marketing & commerce

How does product experience influence decision-making in Pro Audio consumers?

May 13, 2015 | 2 min read

Traditional retailers are facing stiff competition from players in e-commerce. This is true even when it comes to products with properties difficult to assess for purchase or use, such as Pro Audio equipment. Does the physical experience of products still influence consumer purchasing decisions?

Jesse Hagenbeek carried out research for his TIAS Master of Marketing and uses the results to support businesses in the Pro Audio industry, namely to optimize their distribution and retail strategy.

What did you research?
“In recent years, as has been the case with numerous markets, physical sales in Pro Audio stores have declined sharply while sales from online retailers have increased exponentially. The consumer more and more frequently conducts both the research and purchase online. But is it possible to judge the sound quality of speakers or headphones online? Are these products still evaluated physically before purchase? And how relevant is the physical store as a place for discovery, evaluation, and purchase? In short, to what extent does the direct product experience influence the decision making of Pro Audio consumers?"

How did you carry out your research?
"We interviewed a total of nearly 750 consumers of two major European retailers. Because one of these retailers predominantly sells online and the other mainly in stores, we were able to compare the behavior of both online and in-store consumers. We measured whether the purchased product was physically seen or tried before purchase, as well as researching whether aspects such as product, price, enjoyment and previous experiences had any influence. We also researched the impact of "showrooming” and “experience touch points” and measured the impact of direct product experience on the decision to purchase and the place of purchase.

Digitalization has major impact

Why this topic?
“Digitalization has a major impact on the value chain in the Pro Audio industry, particularly on the revenue models of distributors and retailers. Is it still necessary for a brand to distribute products through countless stores or is it sufficient to work with a handful of strong online retailers? To answer this question I wanted to test whether prior physical experience of products is still valuable for consumers and whether there is still a future for the physical store, despite the Internet often providing a more efficient solution."

What is the most remarkable conclusion of your research?
"Most consumers indicate that they find no issues in assessing classic experience attributes online. But while the motivations regarding direct product experience seem to have changed significantly, it still exerts a major influence on purchase decisions. The integration of channels and experiences from a “customer-centric” perspective and providing a valuable experience are key concerns for retailers who want to remain relevant."

How are you using the results?
"My consultancy Hedgecreek develops marketing and business development strategies for companies. We are at present using the results to support companies in the Pro Audio industry in making strategic decisions about the future of their retail channels and how to reach consumers effectively."
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