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Refining online consumer search into an opportunity

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The rise of the internet has given consumers far more information than ever before when it comes to seeking product information and making purchase decisions. Search platforms aggregate product information and decrease search costs by letting consumers refine search results (eg by price, location, brand or other product attributes) and also by recommending particular products to consumers. Enhanced search technologies have led to reduced search costs, heightening competition between firms. This paper argues that in such an environment, firms can benefit by managing their search platforms to further reduce consumers’ search costs. A platform where it is easy for a consumer to find the best product will benefit from increased consumer retention, as well as satisfaction with the purchased product. The paper offers a number of recommendations to firms for tailoring product recommendations and rankings, even for anonymous consumers whose individual preferences are unknown to the platform. It also points out that search behaviour can be used to glean insights about consumers’ unmet needs and that platforms should be managed so that consumer confidence in search results is protected. Finally, it considers that some search engine optimisation may actually increase search costs.
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Keywords: consumer search; customer retention; customer satisfaction; filtering; internet; price dispersion; search platforms; search refinement; sorting

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2018

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  • Applied Marketing Analytics is the major new professional journal publishing in-depth, peer-reviewed articles on all aspects of marketing analytics. Guided by an expert Editorial Board each quarterly 100-page issue - published both in print and online - features detailed, practical articles written by and for marketing analytics professionals on innovative thinking, strategies, techniques, software and applied research showing how major brands are collecting, interpreting and acting on marketing analytics, both around the world and across varied digital and non-digital marketing channels. Learn how to measure the effectiveness of your marketing initiatives more accurately, how this compares to your competitors, identify gaps in your marketing analytics program and what metrics that support sound marketing decision making - and add to the bottom line.
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