More Consumers Research Packaged Goods Online Before Purchase

Everybody knows consumers rely on the Internet to research complex purchases such as a digital camera, or expensive ones, like a new car.

But a new study finds that shoppers are even doing Internet research on routine consumer packaged goods decisions--with 70% saying they have researched brands before buying them at the grocery store, reports Prospectiv, a Woburn, Mass.-based lead-generation company.

Mostly, consumers go online primarily looking for information (48%), followed by savings (46%). A much smaller group--6%--say they use the Internet primarily for tips on how to use a product. And 40% say that the Internet influences daily purchasing decisions--"a number that's kind of astounding," says Jere Doyle, president/CEO at Prospectiv. "People don't like to admit being influenced by anything," he says.

About 27% say that right now, their favorite way to find what they're looking for is from e-newsletters they've signed up for, whether sent by a brand, an online community or a retailer. About 25% favor search tools, 14% like saving sites best, 14% say they like branded sites, 12% newspaper and magazine sites, and 8% use comparison shopping sites.



But the branded sites are also problematic. When consumers who didn't use them--86% of the respondents--were asked why, 67% said they aren't aware they exist, 17% say such sites typically aren't very helpful, and 16% just don't trust them.

Consumers are looking for more online from these companies, Doyle says: 76% would sign up for information on specials and savings offers, and 47% say they'd like to receive on online newsletter.

That means that marketers and retailers "have a great opportunity to create a relationship with the customer," he says. "Consumers may want to pick the relationship, and they want to be in charge, and most of all, they want something back-savings, information, or advice. But what they are saying is, 'I want this relationship'."

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