The Electronic Retailing Association, a trade group whose members include companies like QVC and eBay, says 46 percent of adults purchased at least one product through an electronic channel in the last 12 months. Before the actual purchase, many of these buyers saw the product promoted somewhere else.
The ERA defines electronic as the Internet (33 percent of all adults bought something online), infomercials (14 percent), home shopping TV (10 percent) and radio (6 percent).
About 60 percent of online consumers, 42 percent of radio buyers, 32 percent of TV infomercial consumers and 21 percent of home shoppers say they saw an item in stores, catalogs, or advertising, before making their purchase electronically, the ERA reports.
"The big takeaway for marketers is that there is no such thing as one magic bullet," says Paige Muller, vice president of marketing communications, for the Arlington, Va.-based ERA. "You really have to be everywhere consumers are, using multiple channels to reach them."
And despite the cheesy reputation of infomercials, just where a consumer sees or buys a product seems to have little effect on what he or she thinks about it. Some 78 percent of Internet and infomercial buyers, for example, say that where a product is sold has no impact on their perception of the brand.
Overall, the median age of these shoppers was 47.1, with a median income of $56,983. But there were sharp differences, depending on the channel. Internet buyers were younger and more affluent, with a median age of 44.3, and a median income of $61,129, and split evenly between men and women. Infomercial consumers had a median age of 52, a median income of $52,059, and were 60 percent female. Home shopping TV consumers were older--54.4--had a median income of $50,455, and were 68 percent female.
While Internet shoppers were less likely to use multiple electronic channels (28 percent of online shoppers also used TV or radio), about 70 percent of TV shoppers and 80 percent of radio shoppers also used another electronic form of shopping.
Muller said the most popular product category for electronic purchase, overall, was cosmetics, followed by sports/fitness items.