As the holiday shopping season starts in earnest, several research reports are predicting not only an increase in Internet sales, but also that a majority of Americans will be researching their purchases online before buying in stores.
According to research conducted by DoubleClick’s marketing performance division Performics, 58 percent of adults surveyed plan do conduct online research during this years’ holiday season. Performics also predicts that each of the Mondays between Thanksgiving and Christmas will see an up tick in sales compared to regular sales, and not just Monday November 27, the most commonly cited "Cyber Monday."
In a separate report, Harris Interactive found in a report commissioned by Google Checkout that 40 percent of employed U.S. adults say they'll be doing at least some of their online holiday shopping from work this year, with one in four of those shoppers logging on to track down that perfect gift on Monday, November 27.
“It’s highly relevant to the holiday season, the predominance of people that do use online research as part of a purchase process,” said Cam Balzer, vice president of strategic planning at Performics. “Nine out of ten people that make a decision after research online end up buying exactly what they are looking for.”
Finding herself in a majority of consumers that do online research did not surprise Diana Schulze of San Francisco, who spends several hours a week researching purchases.
"I prefer to do the groundwork for my purchases online and then find out where I can find them in stores nearby,” Schulze said. “I also like to find out what other folks are saying about them. It gives me more ammunition... otherwise I’m at the mercy of the salesperson."
While most marketing dollars slated for the holiday season were spent long ago, Performics’s Balzer stresses that a focus on search marketing is still key.
“If consumers are online to research and make decisions in such a predominant way, that helps justify putting dollars into this channel,” he said. “Search is a great way to capitalize on the trends to spend dollars that aren’t performing well in other channels. Those dollars can be allocated in search really quickly. If they are multi-channel marketers, with offline and online channels, they have to consider the values that they are driving offline with the online ad dollars.”
Performics also found that four percent plan to conduct online research and purchase online, while 12% plan to conduct online research and purchase offline, and 43% plan to conduct online research and make both online and offline purchases.
The research firm based their findings on a telephone survey of a random sample of 1,053 adults 18 years of age or older, undertaken late last month.
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