Consumers in control on comparison sites
ComparisonCheck looks at how and why people are using comparison sites with a focus on financial services products.
Almost half (47%) of respondents say that they are more confident using comparison sites than they were last year, with a similar proportion (46%) stating that they are now making more financial decisions on their own, without advice.
The consumer is now comfortably at the helm of their financial purchasing decisions, with 46% agreeing that they have more control than this time last year. Todd Davis, Director of Financial Services Consulting for YouGov commented, “This confidence and control appears to have produced an increasingly demanding consumer. The financial services sector is one which consumers historically have been hesitant to embrace. However, thanks to the rise of comparison sites, consumers now have access to a wide array of information and are thus becoming both increasingly knowledgeable and increasingly demanding of their financial products.”
The most commonly stated benefits of comparison sites are the information about products and companies on offer (69%) and the resulting choice given to consumers (58%). Subsequently, 1 in 3 (67%) indicated that they are more demanding of their financial products now than they were this time last year, and consumers are scoring value, price and products features ahead of the brand name of the product provider. Both brand recognition and trust have dropped in importance since March 2010: those rating brand trust as important has dropped from 78% to 75% in the last three months and brand recognition has dropped from 69% to 65%.
The majority of those questioned (87%) agree that comparison sites have made it easier to research financial products, and over half (55%) agree that they spend more time researching financial products before buying them than they did a year ago. Comparison sites are the most popular channel for researching car insurance (79%), buildings or contents insurance (72%), motorcycle insurance (59%), and van insurance (58%). For almost all other products listed, comparison sites closely followed internet searches as the most commonly consulted source of information. For almost half of the financial products listed, a higher proportion of consumers are consulting comparison sites in order to obtain information today than three months ago.
Almost three quarters (72%) of those questioned agreed that comparison sites have made it easier to buy financial services products. Of those who have bought a financial services product through a comparison site in the last 3 months, over half have bought car insurance (53%). The second most commonly purchased product was buildings or contents insurance, with just under a third purchasing this product (30%). Significantly more people bought car insurance, ISAs and motorcycle insurance this quarter than they did last quarter. Car insurance and buildings or contents insurance top the list as the most browsed for products in the past 3 months; of those who have browsed, 59% searched for car insurance and 35% searched for buildings or contents insurance.
The majority (79%) of those questioned used more than one comparison site when searching for a financial services product, and 61% contact companies which are not listed on comparison sites as part of their research process. However, 62% believe these companies are missing out on an opportunity to sell them something and 59% would prefer them to be on comparison sites.
With the centralised and vast array of information and choice now available to consumers, companies need to utilise the opportunities comparison sites offer and satisfy the needs of their now savvy and demanding customers.
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