Study: Tech Purchasers Consult Web First

Most brick-and-mortar shoppers conduct research online before making a purchase, according to a new study released Wednesday. What's more, shoppers rely far more heavily on the Internet for product information than on TV, radio, or magazines, concluded the study.

"The Internet is climbing in usage and purchasing influence, magazines, TV and radio are being marginalized and newspaper influence, while still strong, appears increasingly limited to coupon offers and sale notifications," stated the report, "Impact of Online Research on Off-Line Retail Buying: Predispositions and Outcomes."

The study, conducted by the CMO Council and The ConsumerEdge Research Group, and sponsored by Yahoo!, was based on a survey of 322 consumers who made purchases earlier this year at BestBuy, CompUSA, and Circuit City retail stores. The most popular products bought were digital cameras, computers, DVD/DVRs, printers, and TVs.

Fifty-five percent of respondents reported researching on the Web before heading off to the store. That group was almost evenly divided between those who spent less than an hour online and those who used the Internet more intensely; 27 percent of respondents researched for less than an hour, while 24 percent spent between one and three hours online and 4 percent spent more than three hours conducting research.

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Those who stayed online longer tended to rely more heavily on banner ads, user groups, and blogs than did those who were online for less than an hour.

When respondents were asked to name their top three sources of online information, 47 percent chose marketers' Web sites, 41 percent named search engines, and 39 percent picked retailers' Web sites. Just 11 percent of respondents chose banner ads, while only 4 percent selected blogs.

But when researchers broke out responses of those who researched for more than one hour, it turned out that 22 percent of that group considered banner ads important, 22 percent thought the same of user groups, and 7 percent selected blogs as among their top three Web sources.

When researchers asked purchasers to rank the sources of information that most influenced them, less than 5 percent of respondents put TV, magazines, or radio in their top three. By contrast, 25 percent put newspapers in the top three, and 21 percent said the same for the Internet.

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