Web-savvy consumers spend more in stores (research)

Joint research by Accenture, comScore and dunnhumbyUSA suggests frequent visitors to brand Web sites buy more of that brand in the 'real world.' Need I say more?
Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor

There couldn't be a more perfect illustration of the influence that digital marketing activities are having on consumer purchasing habits. Or, on the fact that consumers are now researching brands more thoroughly on the Internet.

The evidence? New data suggests that people who spend time researching product information on a consumer brand's Web site buy more in retail stores than those who don't do any online research as they are considering a purchase.

The research, dug up by business consulting firm Accenture, audience measurement company comScore and branding expert dunnhumbyUSA, draws a direct line between a consumer's digital marketing interactions and their "real world" spending habits.

Specifically, those who were frequent visitors to a specific brand's Web site tended to complete 41 percent more transactions involving that brand at retail. Overall, these frequent visitors spend about 37 percent more money on the brand than those who aren't engaged online, the research found.

The statistics were drawn from a panel of 1 million U.S. Internet users that work with comScore; that data was matched with in-store brand buying behavior collected by dunnhumbyUSA.

In press release describing the research, comScore Vice President Mike Zeman said:

"Consumer packaged goods (CPG) marketers currently invest millions of dollars in their brand websites, and the results of this study confirm the important of this investment. Brand websites can attract and influence the behavior of the most valuable segments of any brand's franchise. But it's clear that the content and utilities on these sites need to be highly engaging if they are to attract a meaningful number of visitors."

Clear message here: if you are a consumer goods company, don't make your company's web site an afterthought or a second class citizen to other forms of marketing and advertising. No matter how tempting it might be to send bazillions on something like the Superbowl, have you noticed that there really isn't any "surprise" to those advertisements. A perfect example: Honda's Ferris Bueller spoof ad (below, I couldn't resist):

Last time I checked, 6.3 million people had viewed the full-length advertisement, which was released after the teaser created a fire storm of attention. And yes, the video is the centerpiece of a new site (The Leap List) that the automaker has put together for the CR-V featured in the ad.

The real takeaway from these new metrics by Accenture, comScore and dunnhumbyUSA is that we are reaching a tipping point for when it comes to the medium in which consumers want to receive their marketing messages. Keeping your Web site fresh with clear value messages, and fresh and engaging content isn't a nice-to-have, it's a must.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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