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Spanish Consumers Wary of E-commerce, but Swayed by Social Media

While online recommendations have a high impact on purchase decisions, Spain's consumers are reluctant to buy online.

Photo: Tuenti: Spain’s popular domestic social media brand.
Tuenti: Spain's popular domestic social media brand.
Photo: Tuenti: Spain’s popular domestic social media brand.
Tuenti: Spain's popular domestic social media brand.

Although 19.3 million Spanish citizens are regular users of social networks, many in the country remain reluctant to make purchases online. With social media part of the everyday life of 40.1% of Spain's 46.77 million residents, only 12% of the population has made an online purchase. This compares poorly to the 74% of UK adults who bought items via the internet in 2014.

The study, conducted by the Interactive Advertising Bureau Spain (IAB Spain), showed that, despite a reluctance to actually spend on line, Spanish consumers are still highly influenced by social media – most notably, Tuenti, the country's most popular domestic social media provider – when it comes to purchase decisions. According to the IAB Spain's figures, some 70% of internet users conceded that online recommendations and referrals formed a key part of their buying criteria. This was particularly true in certain sectors, most notably clothing, footwear, travel and books.

Typically, users don't just stumble upon such information. Some 39% of the country's Internet users described themselves as "proactive" when it came to seeking out information online prior to making purchases. Comments and opinions from other social network were cited as being particularly influential with regard to committing to spend on either products or services.

Overall, nearly two-thirds (62%) of the country's internet users said such assessments were valuable, compared to just 10% who definitely disagreed. Comments also play a role post-purchase, with many social subsequently looking to advise other would-be buyers. Some 37% of respondents said they posted comments, opinions, issues and questions with regard to their online purchases onto their preferred social network.

The survey also showed that brands have a significant chance of influencing social networkers' purchase decisions through their own online presence. The majority of respondents were happy to tolerate advertising on social networks, believing it potentially provided useful information. By contrast, just 9% viewed such practices as unacceptable.

In total, more than one-third of internet users were willing to share their personal information with brands. This, however, was only the case if they received personalized offers and promotions in return.

Xavier Serra, Barcelona Consultant

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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