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Advertising & consumption

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Media
Wordcount: 3361 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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With the rapid development of technology, the way people advertise and consume has changed gradually. In the other words, technology is increasing the capacity and practices of consumption and providing more platforms for advertising. Some people argue that it might lead to weak social organisation and solidarity, however, the influence of technology on people’s daily life is inevitable. Take online shopping for example, it is magnificently affecting the traditional consumption habits. More and more consumers are getting used to purchasing online instead of high street shopping.

This essay is going to observe how technology has expanded the scope of advertising and the spaces of consumption practices in terms of online shopping. Besides, critical evaluation will be carried out to verify the accuracy and effectiveness of the observation.


Holt D. (1995) pointed out that ‘ the act of consuming is a varied and effortful accomplishment underdetermined by the characteristics of the object.’ Any products can be typically consumed in a range of different ways by different consumers. Therefore, it is essential to analyse how online shopping is influencing the consumption practices of consumers.

Consumption Practices:

First of all, online shopping brings us a convenient, fast and time-saving consuming atmosphere, and this is considered to be the major concern of middle class who work eight hours in average, and they don’t have much time to spend on shopping. Hence, they treat time like gold, and wish to buy everything they want as short as a few minutes.

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In traditional shopping pattern, consumers need to spend a large number of energy and time on selecting and comparing various goods in different high street stores. The information about the products often vary due to the misinterpretation of salesmen. Besides, there are always restricts of time and place. Take Newcastle city centre for example, most shops on Northumberland Street close before six o’clock. People who work until six will not be able to do any shopping during the weekdays, and the people who live in suburbs where there is no shopping centre nearby will have to waste an hour or more on the way to city centre and back. Online shopping perfectly solves the problem. Shopping can be easily completed within a couple of clicks in anytime and anywhere as long as the customers have internet access.

Itunes is a successful online software and platform that provides consumers a convenient way to buy their favourite music. Sometimes, people don’t wan to buy the whole album. Instead, they’d like to listen to some specific tracks by different artists. Itune totally satisfy these consumers by offering download of every single track of various artists with a little amount of expenses, and it is really time-saving – just a couple of clicks, then the track will be downloaded automatically and ready in a flash of time( depends on the speed of Internet service providers).

Secondly, the advantage of online shopping on products price is obvious to obtain, and price is always the most important factor for consumers to consider. Online sales compared to traditional stores, it doesn’t require any physical store. Besides, online sales are able to contact directly with upstream suppliers and ask them to send the products to customers when necessary. Hence, no self-storage facilities will be used to store goods so that the cost of logistics and storages can be minimised. In the other words, the total cost of online sales is much lower than the average cost of physical store sales. In addition, online bidding is getting more and more popular as consumers can get the products in an unbelievably low price from time to time. A typical example of online bidding is ebay. Therefore, the retail price online is relatively lower than traditional physical stores, which will be expected to attract more customers.

Special promotion or sale will be another reason to shop online. For instance, there is 20% student discount occasionally throughout catalogues on the official website of Topshop/Topman when the customers make the purchase online, meanwhile there is only 10% discount in store for students, and this also reflects the advantage of online shopping on price. After all, no people are willing to pay more for something that is exactly the same.

In addition, online shopping provides consumers more comfortable and pleasant shopping atmosphere. During the process of shopping, some consumers require the feelings of pleasure rather than the products themselves, and many of them have experienced various attitudes from different salesmen in physical stores. Those salesmen usually approach customers with smile when they step in the stores and recommend a number of products to the customers when browsing the shop, However, the smile on their faces will fade away with time as the customers don’t show any interest on the products they recommend. Most consumers will not be pleased by the way the salesmen persuade them to make the purchase, instead, they want to shop in a

Comfortable and pleasant mood.

In contrast, those who have shopped online will find consumption via online shopping is a lot easier. They are always free to click on the products they are interested and able to compare different products as often as they want. Besides, they can make the purchase, save the products for later or leave the products without the interference from salesmen by simply clicking on the web pages. Take ASOS for example, customers can quickly find the clothes they want by narrowing down the search results. Besides, these clothes can be displayed in 360 degree, and can be even viewed by real models’ catwalk what can hardly be seen in physical stores.

Furthermore, online shopping brings a customised products consuming platform for the customers who have special requirements. More and more products need to meet the consumer’s imagination to meet the needs of individual consumers with the development of society. The choices by consumers may no longer be practicalness of the products, but more needs to reflect the values of their own. How to make the products innovative and stimulate curiosity of consumer has become a crucial problem the product developer must consider. Many products sold in online stores can not be found in any physical shopping malls or stores. These unique products usually emphasis on ‘ trendy ‘ and ‘ interesting ‘. They are customised to meet the requirements of every single customers.

In online stores, costumers can find a range of special products which are beyond our imagination, from nails to laptops, from furnitures to clothes, every product involved in our daily life can be customised meet people’s needs. For instance, customers will be able to customise their laptop, mobile phone and even gaming consoles by altering their colours on a website called Colourware. There is a wide range of colours to choose and the front, trim or back of your digital devices can even be altered in different colours.

Moreover, The prices of these luxury products in the traditional physical stores are relatively more expensive than online boutiques. Online shopping brings the opportunities to get famous brand products with a reasonable price for those label lovers who can not afford the price. As mentioned before, price is the most important factor that consumers should consider. For these people who need to purchase luxury products to show their status and prestige, they think certain products with famous brand will improve the quality of life, and reflects the social status at the same time.

There is also another way to satisfy customers’ vanity, if they can afford these luxury products neither online nor in store : rent them. They don’t need spend a lot on these famous labels as better solution is going to save them a great amount of money. In a website called ‘ Rent Luxury Bags’ ,customers can find most luxury bags they’ve been dreaming of, and they can rent these bags in a reasonable price. Additionally, these bags can be rent from four week up to a year.

Last but not least, all customers are able to put their personal belongings online and sell or trade them as second hand products. In the other word, everything can be commodity as long as the demand of these products exists. Take E-bay for example, millions of second hand products are updated everyday on this online trading platform. Sometimes, it is the only way to get the products when the brand new one is no longer in stock.


As more and more consumers are getting used to online shopping, advertising is also transforming from offline to online. A great number of online shopping websites are cooperating with social network websites,search engines and email service providers such as Facebook, Twitter, Google, Bing, Hotmail etc in order to maximise the online exposure. When searching a keyword on search engine, all the hyperlinks of relevant products will be listed on the first page of search results, and all the relevant websites who have paid advertising fees to the search engine will be popped up on the advertisement column. Similarly, a range of products with hyperlinks will be recommended on your profile page of Facebook or Twitter according to users’ search history. To put it in different words, advertisement of online shopping websites can be seen everywhere once you get online.

The individual owners of small websites are mainly making money through the website advertising alliance. the form of web advertising alliance was invented by Amazon in 1996. The advertising mode of Amazon advertising alliance is CPS (cost per sell), which means the amount of advertising income will depend on the actual sale figures on the online shopping website.

With the moderate acceptance and recognition of CPS advertising mode by consumers , online shopping advertising has gradually become the major advertising method, and the revenue of online shopping advertising is increasing in a magnificent speed . More and more sites have been dug to a online shopping advertising market in order to get a share of this new market. There have been a range of online shopping advertising-based mode to promote different sites. Since online shopping has a large number of users, these owners of small websites also gained sustained, reliable and stable income.

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Cash back websites are becoming popular among online shopping consumers. Once the users make successful purchases through the links provided by the cash back websites, the online shopping websites offer these cash back websites all or part of the sales commission in the form of cash or points to users. The main advantages of cash back websites in one word is cheaper, as they save more money for the consumers, and the maximum savings may be up to 30%. This is a better way for those consumers who make the purchases online regularly.

More importantly, these cash back websites are promoting more than 3000 retailers toward consumers at the same time. The most successful example in UK is Quidco. It is obvious to notice the online retailers on the frontpage of Quidco, such as play.com ebay, orange and so on. As consumers browse Quidco to find the cash back deal for their favourite products, the products on other online retailers have also been browsed.

In addition, price comparison websites are another essential way to promote online retailers. A number of relevant products will be picked from different online retailers and listed from lowest price to highest price for the consumers to choose once the keyword is typed in. Price Grabber can be taken as the representative of these websites, and any products from appliances to wines can be search and compared in order to find the cheapest products for customers. Simultaneously, the online retailers who sell cheaper products will be exposed to more customers. It is also a practical online shopping advertising mode that offers users an alternative shopping experience.

Furthermore, professional online shopping navigation sites are born to promote various online retailers or physical shops and focus on a certain area such as books, restaurants or travels. These websites publish free of coupons, offers, discounts , promotions, free shipping, and other shopping information about some specific websites or shops regularly. They are capable of gathering a large number of online retailers and physical stores and reorganize them in different categories. The updated information about these retailers can be spreaded to potential customers. These potential customers can reach the product or service pages they are interested in by simply clicking the links the navigation sites provide, and it saves a lot of time for the consumers.

These professional navigation sites are practical online shopping advertising mode, and they provide a simple, easy, clear way to shop online. For instance, My Voucher Codes provide a wide range of promotional codes, e-vouchers or discount codes , which will offer consumers a discount or money off the listed retail price of many goods, at a variety of different online UK retailers.

Moreover, online retailers can be exposed via products review sites. This type of sites mainly focus on film, television, books or restaurants, and guide users to make a purchase through the comment on a particular commodity by other consumers. The interaction between customers on these sites are relatively strong, and it will provoke potential customers to buy the products online shopping customers via the feedbacks from other users in order to achieve the promotion. Students will be expected to be the largest group of potential users of this kind of site.


April 2009, the European Commission in Brussels hosted the first summit of European consumers, the them of the meeting is the opportunities and challenges in digital age. A copy of Euro’s statistics on online shopping was released during the meeting. These data were from family, personal use of information and communication technology survey in twenty seven European countries.

According to the statistics on Euro Online Shopping Industry Report(2009), about one-third of customers in European countries have the experience of making the purchase online in 2008, the most popular consumptions online are tourism and clothing .

In 2008, the individual consumers between the ages of 16-74, about 32% of the purchase or order through the network are personal goods or services. In recent years, the proportion of individuals online shopping steady growth (in 2004 was 20% in 2006 to 26%, 30% in 2007.) Basically speaking, all EU member showed a growth in online shopping. The majority of the 27 European countries, the most frequent consumer groups in online shopping is 25-34 years (representing the number of age 47%), while in Malta, Slovenia, Slovakia and Bulgaria, age group of online shopping is 16-24 years old. In the 16-24 years old and 35-44 year-olds, online shopping is increasing moderately, the percentage is as high as 41% and 40%. In the 45-54 year-old ,55-64-year-old 65-74 years old, the online shopping rate gradually decreased, respectively, 31%, 20% and 9%.

In 2008, the most products and services consumed online are travel and holiday products (14% of individual consumers have purchased or ordered such products in the past 12 months), followed by clothing and sporting goods (13%) Books and magazines (12%), household items or event tickets (both 11%), film and music products (9%), electronic products (8%).

In Denmark, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden and Finland, more than half of consumers conducted online shopping. 16-74 year-olds, over 59% of the Danish people have the experience of online shopping, meanwhile in UK is 57%, 56% in the Netherlands, Germany and were 53% in Sweden , 51% in Finland.

Among European Union countries, travel clothing and sporting goods occupy the highest proportion in Finland, these two were 31% and 27%, the highest proportion in purchasing of books and magazines is in Luxembourg (29%), purchase rate of home supplies and the highest proportion of electronic products in Germany were 26% and 18%, the highest percentage of purchase event tickets is in Denmark (28%), purchase products, movies and the United Kingdom occupies the highest proportion of music purchase (24%).

Based on the online shopping statistics in the UK for November 2009 and February 2010 quarter (Harris G, 2010), the top ten e-commerce sites for that quarter are: Amazon.co.uk, Argos, Play.com, Apple Computer, Amazon.com, Tesco, Marks & Spencer, John Lewis, Next and Easyjet.

Among these sites above, most of them have been massively exposed via a range of online shopping advertising. The more these online retailers promote, the more customers will be. Besides, the comments about their products on product review sites are mainly positive, and this will have the influence on potential customers’ decision making. For those companies who have physical stores like Tesco, Marks & Spencer or John Lewis, online shops have increased their share in online shopping industry, and customers now can enjoy the products from them anywhere and anytime. Although these companies have been existing for years, a number of customers would still like to purchase their products in an alternative and convenient way.

According to the analysis by Redfern A. (2007), the UK online advertising industry has spent over £2,015.8 billion pounds for the full year of 2006, occupied approximately 11.4% share of the UK advertising industry. This indicates the growth of online shopping advertising is affecting advertising industry and motivate more companies to establish online shops and promote their products in an alternative way.

Besides, £30.2 billion pounds have been spent online during 2006, and 19.7 million people are used to shop online in the UK, spending shopping basket of £652 each in the past couple of months in average. It is assumed that by the end of 2011, 32 million domestic consumers will start their first shopping online, and the value of commodities they purchase online will be around 52 billion pounds in 2011. Hence, the amount customers spend online will be expected to double in five years, and more people will be persuaded to make the purchase online by the regular consumers who have been doing online shopping for a long time.


In conclusion, technology did expanded the scope of advertising and the spaces of consumption practices. It is changing people’s life in every possible way, and is challenging traditional advertising and consumption practices. The revolution of shopping from physical stores to online retailers is inevitably taking place, and choices for online shopping advertising is moderately increasing. It is expected that more consumers will start shopping online and don’t need to spend great amount of time on searching for the products they are interested in the future. On the contrary, these products will be able to find the consumers via online shopping advertising.


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