Millions of Americans Confused by PC Buying Process, AMD Study Says

Consumer choices driven by convenience, ease of customization, in-store experience, deterred by not understanding the technology.

November 23, 2010

D.H. Kass

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Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) said that millions of Americans are confused by the process to purchase a personal computer, according to an online study it commissioned from public opinion researcher Zogby International.

The chip makers suggested--based on findings from 2,100 respondents in the Zogby study--that buying a PC will perplex upwards of 20 million consumers, or some 23 percent of the buying public, before this year concludes. Researcher International Data Corp. (IDC) figures that PC sales will exceed 79 million units in North America.

Of the one in four consumers expressing confusion in the buying process, about 70 percent blamed a lack of understanding of the technology, according to the study’s findings.

AMD released the results of the study, which Zogby conducted in October, immediately prior to the beginning of this year's holiday buying season.

Participants in the Zogby research compared buying a PC to purchasing a microwave, an expression of a general lack of enthusiasm, according to the researchers. Some 57 percent of respondents called PCs a necessity, pointing to performance and price as the dominant factors in choosing a make and model.

AMD said that the survey results also revealed differing consumer preferences based on the method of purchase. For example, for those buying a PC online, convenience was named by 67 percent of respondents as a key motivating factor owing to the ease of customization and readily available pre-purchase research.

By comparison, motivations varied for buying a PC in store, with 27 percent of the study’s participants preferring the hands-on experience, 22 percent relying on sales assistance and 16 percent opting for leaving the store with their purchase rather than waiting for delivery.

AMD said that the study’s findings revealed that 91 percent of the participants own a PC. Eighty percent of the respondents either recently purchased a new PC or plan to do so in the next year. Of those deciding against buying a PC in the next year, 15 percent blamed price. Only 1 percent of the participants never have purchased a PC.

“More people than ever before are investing in PCs and it is critical that the system they purchase delivers the user experience they are looking for,” said Tracey Carroll, AMD director, North America Consumer Marketing.

“While three out of four consumers do not find the process confusing, there is still a great opportunity for AMD to work with our retail and OEM partners to ensure the other quarter of consumers make better informed buying decisions,” she said.

Vendors, retailers need clear messages to consumers

Lawrence Ring, a professor at the College of William and Mary’s Mason School of Business, said that ”consumers are spoiled by choice, or maybe overwhelmed, when it comes to buying new PC products, with dozens of brands and a multitude of retailers and etailers to choose from.”

Ring said that vendors and retailers must value communicating clearly with consumers.

“When it comes to understanding the trade-off between price and performance, the major drivers of choice, retailers and manufacturers need to focus on clear communication with customers to make the PC purchasing process as simple as possible,” he said.

AMD is touting its Vision Technology platform to simplify the PC buying process for consumers at the point of sale. The platform homes in on how consumers use PCs rather than the technical specifications that many people find confusing, AMD said.

Nigel Dessau, AMD chief marketing officer, said last month in a blog post that the point of the Vision Technology is to “simplify consumer up-sell at the point of sale.”

He said that “while it would be nice if a consumer walks into a store and asks for a system based on a Vision Technology platform, our primary mission was and still is to help a retail store associate easily connect the user experience that the consumer wants to the right PC platform for them.”

TAGS: consumer,PC,AMD,retail,Zogby

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