Annex 5 - methodology for main task 5 (behavioural experiment)

AuthorConsumers, Health, Agriculture and Food Executive Agency (European Commission), Deloitte consortium, IPSOS, London Economics
Annex 5 Methodology for Main Task 5 (Behavioural
The behavioural experiment addressed two key objectives in the context of consumer
search for information on real estate advertisements:
How easy it is for consumers to find and assess information; and
Assess how much information can be ‘digested’ by consumers.
A5.1 Key design features of the behavioural experiment
The experiment featured at the end of the consumer survey from Main Task 2. and had an
average duration of 15 minutes. The experiment was conducted with 1,003 respondents
in France, and 1,001 respondents in the UK.
Components of the experiment
The components of the online experience for respondents were as follows:
Allocation to t reatments and scenarios: Thi s stage, unseen by respondents,
divided respondents into different groups.
First, respondents were randomly allocated to one of four scenarios. These were:
o Domestic rental
o Domestic purchase
o Cross-border scenario 1: Purchase of a property abroad from a website based
in the home country.
o Cross-border scenario 2: Purchase of a property abroad from a website based
in the host country.
Within each scenario, there were five treatments. The exception is domestic rental in which
there was one additional treatment.
Explanation of tasks and incentives: This part briefly explained th e experiment
tasks and scenarios to respondents and mentioned the functi oning of additi onal
monetary incentives.
Stage 1 comparison of multiple property advertisements
Stage 2 closer examination of a single property
Post-experiment survey questions: These questions were asked to assess
respondents’ understanding and qualitative appreciation of the previous tasks.
Moreover, additional respondent characteristics, such as behavioural drivers, were
The following treatments systematically varied the look and feel of th e experiment for
respondents. Respondents were allocated randoml y and independently to a variant within
each treatment category. Each treatment category had two to three variants. Unless
indicated otherwise, the treatments were applied across stages 1 and 2 of the experiment.
Size treatment: This treatment varied whether th e property’s surface in sqm (or
sqft in the UK) was displayed, or not.
Key features treatme nt (stage 1): Thi s treatment varied whether key features
of the real estate properties were shown via icons, and whether these icons were
displayed consistently across properties, or on an ad-hoc basis.
Energy performance certificate treatment: This treatment varied whether the
EPC of the property was displayed, or not.
Price framing treatment: This treatment varied whether the displayed rental and
purchasing prices were inclusive or exclusive of, respectively, residential taxes, or
stamp duty.
Rental price treatment: This treatment was applied to the domestic rental
scenario only. It varied whether the displayed rental prices were shown as prices
per month, or per week.
Key features treatme nt (stage 2): Thi s treatment varied whether key features
of the property were displayed in icons, or not.
Tabular format treatment (stage 2): This treatment varied whether the features
of the property were displayed in textual format only, or also in a tabul ar format.
Performance in the experiment was incentivised using Ipsos panel points which convert to
monetary p ayoffs via consumption vouchers a t popular retailers in the respective panel
countries. More specifically, respondents earned additional points via correct answers t o
objective questions with correct/incorrect answers.
A5.2 Weighting the data
As decided during the inception phase of the study, 50% of respondents in the behavioural
experiment were required to ha ve relevant experience in the real e state market (called
Group 2); this was a screening requirement for taking part in the general consumer survey
(Main Task 2)7. The remaining 50% of respondents were recruited from the general public
without any further restrictions (called Group 3).
The Tender Specifications require the experiment sample to be representative of the
general population of consumers for the issue at stake. Foll owing the fieldwork, it
was concluded that the natural incidence of consumers with experience in the real estate
market was approx. 50% in France and Germany. Due to the construction of the sample,
consumers with experience in the real estate market are overrepresented in the final data
There are approx. 1,000 (i.e. 500 per country) respondents with experi ence in the
real estate market from Group 2.
There are a further approx. 500 (i.e. 250 per country) respondents with experience
in the real estate ma rket f rom Group 3. This is due to the natural incidence of
experience in the market among the general population.
The final dataset thus contains approx. 1,500 respondents with experience in the
real estate ma rket. This corresponds to an incidence of 75% of consumers with
experience in the real estate market, which is hi gher than the natural incidence of
such consumers (50%).
As a result, a weighting variable was constructed that reweights the data to achieve
representativeness in terms of demographics and experience in the real estate market.
A5.3 Detailed results from the behavioural experiment
A5.3.1 Consumer understanding of real estate advertisement
This Annex reports the detailed findings from the b ehavioural experiment conducted for
this study. Similar to tasks undertaken during the myste ry shopping, the experiment lead
respondents through two typical stages of real estate websites (see Full Report text for a
short overview). In th e first stage, respondents compared multiple properties on screen
with limited informati on regarding each property. In the second stage, respondents were
shown one property with in-depth information. At both stages, respondents were asked to
answer questions regarding the real estate advertisements at hand. Key performance
7 Other respondents in the consumer surveys, not taking part of the experiment, were labelled Group1.

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