Consumers influenced most by online advertising

A new report reveals over 77 percent of consumers look online before they buy offline

Seventy-seven percent of consumer electronics purchases were influenced by Internet research according to the joint study by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and Yahoo.

The survey, called "Understanding How Consumers Use the Internet to Research and Shop for CE Products", looked at five key consumer products, mobile phones, computers, digital cameras, digital music players and televisions. It found that online research time directly correlated to product price paid.

In addition the survey also found as the price of a product increased so did the amount of time a consumer spent researching that product. A big expensive item like a telephone would typically involve 15 hours of research, and a small cheaper product like a mobile phone would only need nine hours, with the average amount of time spent researching online was 12 hours.

"Of the total $32.5 billion spent on the consumer electronics products tracked in this study, online research influenced a striking 77 percent or $25.1 billion," said Senior Director of Market Research Tim Herbert, CEA.

"Consumers naturally want to make informed buying decisions and we found they are turning to the Internet for their research. This includes search engines, manufacturer's websites, retail websites and shopping engines."

The reasons for searching online first were diverse. Seventy-three percent of consumers said comparing prices of the same product at different stores is easy to do online and 64 percent said they preferred online because there is a wider variety of products.

Forty-five percent of those who research online and purchase offline use a search engine during the information-gathering process.

The study also found that those who used search engines to research were more educated about what they buy, and were likely to advocate brands by word-of-mouth and were often considered a resource of information by friends and family. However they represented just less than half (47 percent) of the offline and online purchasers surveyed.

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