A Look at Online Purchase Trends in the US with Passive Metering


Passive meters are the latest development in the market research industry. Passive meters are downloaded or installed by panelists so they can provide a more holistic view of the market. Meters provide the extra layer of data, specifically about passive panelist behaviors, that researchers have been missing since the development of the market research. We no longer have to rely solely on self declared data from—now we can combine behavioral data with self declared data to gain more clarity about what people say and what they actually do!

What's great about passive meters is that the software collects in-depth data about online path to purchase behaviors, including details the consumer wouldn't normally remember or recall.

How is this possible?

Well, when people are recruited to join a passive metered panel they are asked to download software to their devices—mobile, tablets, and desktops. The software collects data about the clicks the panelist makes on the devices—whether it’s an app or on the browser—which is why this data is commonly referred to as ‘clickstream data.’ The information about the clicks includes the app names, domain names, the unique URL, time frames, pages visited, and more. This information allows researchers to extend the reach of qualitative studies by allowing them to pinpoint almost every detail about the complex path to purchase journey, all the way from the browsing stage up until the final purchase moment.

To exemplify this data, we compared the desktop online shopping activity of our US behavioral panelists over the weeks of late November to late December.

Is it Surprising Amazon Made the Top Spot?

Unsurprisingly, Amazon remained the most visited among the sites of interest throughout the month, averaging 555 visitors a day from our panelists. Other online stores had significantly lower averages, such as Walmart with 212 visitors a day on average and Target with 79 visitors a day on average.

Making Mondays Better?

Mondays on average were consistently the most popular day for online shopping browsing and purchasing as consumers are likely researching new products they discovered through their friends that weekend. Or just simply looking for a way to make the dreaded Monday a bit better! Then, on Thursdays, Home Depot shows a spike in e-commerce activity as consumers are researching and preparing for a weekend of home improvement!

Is Walmart the Place to Shop for Apple Products?

Studying this data throughout the month of December allows us to see the macro trends occurring throughout. Such as how only 6% of people that visited the Apple.com domain also visited Nordstrom.com, but nearly 70% of those that visited Apple also visited Walmart.com. This commonality could be due to price comparison checks throughout the purchase journey of Apple products.




Within this plethora of data, one could find the exact purchase moments by searching for a pattern in the confirmation page URL used by e-commerce sites. Dictating the exact purchase moment of an online journey is monumental towards ecommerce development and optimization. It allows us to conclusively determine how a product was purchased. However, the true power of this new technology is in determining the why! Passive meters afford us the power to look through the clicks immediately before the purchase moment and brings us one step closer to the purchase decision going on in our consumer’s mind.

Passive meters are the future of the market research landscape. This technology allows researchers to gather data that is untouched by bias and emotion because it is collected passively. Panelists go about their day browsing the internet as naturally as possible and that is what we want as researchers. Gathering this data provides a platform to understand online behavior, which provides more effective and targeted qualitative studies, but can also be combined with qualitative studies to complete the holistic view.

Download Behavioral Panel book

Reach out to us at Netquest to see how our passive meter solutions can help you take the next step with your research projects!



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