An International, Cross-Sector Analysis of Online Search Behaviour


CALL: 2014

DOMAIN: IS - Information and Communication Technologies





HOST INSTITUTION: Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster

KEYWORDS: Online Consumer Behaviour, Consumer Search, Demographics, Internet Strategy, Online Competition, Multi-Sector data analysis

START: 2014-10-01

END: 2018-09-30


Submitted Abstract

The Internet plays a crucial role in the costumer journey. It revolutionised the access to a large pool of information and made search and comparison quick and easy. It is therefore interesting to know for companies and researchers, how consumers behave online, search for products and information and what their search path looks like, as it is difficult to get a complete picture of this complex procedure. As a practical domain, the service industry and the search for flight tickets online is used to describe the phenomenon of online consumer search behaviour in more detail. This industry went through fundamental changes from offline to online search with power shifts to the consumers, technological innovations, distribution and industry alterations. Therefore, it is of interest to see what has changed in terms of search behaviour from offline to online and what are the online search paths and patterns of consumers for flight tickets?A methodological mix of online panel data, tracking real consumer behaviour, an experiment and web log files from a company collaboration were used to combine different consumer, company and market views. Online search has changed compared to offline search contrary to previous studies’ prediction of an increase in online search behaviour. The results corroborate similar studies’ narrow search across industries and countries, regardless of price comparison use. An empirical link between search behaviour and industry concentration could be established. The black box of flight ticket search was uncovered, being more complex and diverse with intensive search cycles and several search iterations, and intermediaries stimulating rather than substituting search behaviour. A new concept comprises the more complex search process for flight options and airline brands. Recommendations and contributions to the fields of marketing and consumer behaviour as well as the airline industry follow from the results.

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