Journal of Interactive Marketing vol:24 issue:4 pages:309-331
Internet adoption in China is booming and purchasing power is growing steadily. Increasing numbers of Chinese turn to the Internet to search for information prior to a purchase. Based on 32 h of interviews with students and business professionals in China, and a questionnaire completed by a sample of 1140 students in Beijing and Belgium, our explorative study demonstrates that fundamental cultural, behavioral, economic, technical, and other characteristics of China cause significant differences between Chinese and Western Europeans in their online search process for information prior to a purchase. The differences occur in frequency, goal, types of information sought, types of websites used, search engine usage patterns, and contribution of user opinions. This has important implications for marketing practitioners in China, especially for multinational corporations that enter China and that are not familiar yet with the Chinese environment. Suggestions for future research are also provided.