The offline purchasing of goods and services that were researched online represent 50% more revenue than those researched and purchased directly online, according to new data from the '2003 American Interactive Consumer Survey', conducted by The Dieringer Research Group (DRG).
Overall, consumers spent some US$137.6 billion in goods and services purchased offline after first seeking online information. Shoppers who made direct online purchases spent only US$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.
Furthermore, when asked about the impact of the internet on brand images, 45% of all online adults (25% of all US consumers) said that their brand opinions have changed in one or more of ten common product categories covered by the survey. Those consumers largely cited advertising and other product information found online as the cause of their changed opinions.
"This data clearly contradicts those who argue that the internet does not seriously affect brand perceptions," said Pam Renick, executive vice president for DRG. "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."
Most sensitive sectors
Brand opinions about airlines and lodging companies were shown to be most likely to change because of online content, followed by 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 that their opinions of financial or insurance brands had changed.
"The findings prove that virtually every marketer can leverage the internet in some way, depending on the product or service category," continued Renick.
According to the survey, there are now more internet-influenced shoppers in the US than there are mail order catalogue shoppers. Moreover, online purchasers typically place 15.8 orders per year online, compared with only 5.3 orders per year placed by traditional mail order shoppers.
In terms of finance and insurance, more than half of all consumers who open new accounts and policies use the internet in some way during the research and application process.
Some 24% of all consumers said they take note of advertisements from at least two media channels; men were more likely to note advertisements from only two channels while women were more likely to note advertisements from three or more channels.
Hyper-shoppers (those who spend at least US$500 per year both online and offline after seeking product info online) were almost as likely to visit the web sites of retailers, financial service providers, and manufacturers as they are to visit search engine sites, and 60% said their brand opinions had changed the past year as a result of online information.
DRG's research offers an examination of multi-channel consumers, current and historical data about all major cross-channel trends, particularly including internet marketing trends. The American Interactive Consumer Survey is based on telephone interviews with 2,000 US consumers, and covers multi-channel customer acquisition behaviours related to retailing, branding, advertising, financial services, and insurance.