Internet Impacts More Spending Offline than Online

The Internet industry has long given up on the debate of whether the Web is a branding or a direct response medium and settled on the mutual understanding that it can serve both purposes rather successfully. Up until now, however, that success has not been truly quantified, but the 2003 American Interactive Consumer Survey conducted by The Dieringer Research Group says the magic number is 50%.

The Internet influences offline purchases worth 50% more than the value of products sold directly online, according to the data.

"This data clearly contradicts those who argue that the Internet does not seriously affect brand perceptions," said Pam Renick, executive vice president of The Dieringer Research Group, a Milwaukee-based marketing information and consulting company. "We see overwhelming evidence that online content not only impacts brands but also drives traffic both to retail stores and to financial service branches and insurance agent offices."

Overall, consumers spent some $137.6 billion in goods and services purchased offline after first seeking online information. Shoppers who made direct online purchases spent only $93.1 billion, a third less than Internet- influenced offline spending. Both figures are based on consumer self-reports of their spending in the twelve months prior to the survey.

In addition, one out of four U.S. consumers now says that online information changed their brand perceptions during the past year. According to the study, as a result of advertising and other product information found online, 45% of all online adults (25% of all U.S. consumers) say that their brand opinions have changed in one or more of ten common product categories covered by the survey. Brand opinions about airlines and lodging companies are most likely to be changed by online content, followed by consumer opinions about household products and clothing brands. In financial services and insurance, 29% of all consumers who conducted online product research prior to opening a new account or policy indicated their opinions of financial or insurance brands had changed.

"These findings prove that virtually every marketer can leverage the Internet in some way, depending on the product or service category," Renick said.

The annual study of multi-channel consumer behaviors is based on telephone interviews with 2,000 U.S. consumers.

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