Expectant Parents, College Students Turn to Search

College students and parents-to-be spend more time searching online, looking for trusted information sources and researching their purchases, according to a new study from Yahoo Search Marketing.

The research comes from Yahoo’s new “Life Series” initiative, which launched earlier this year. The goal of the series of studies is to identify ways consumers use search during various life events — and ways advertisers can benefit from that knowledge. Yahoo identified a dozen life events to explore, including going to college, having a baby, moving to a new city and retiring.

In a study on the first two events — going to college and having a baby — Yahoo found that people in both groups share a desire for trusted information sources, heavy reliance on research prior to making decisions and increased time spent on research.

“People are more likely to consider new products and brands as they move through different life stages. Our research tells us that Web search represents a trusted and highly used source for information,” said David Karnstedt, senior VP and general manager for direct business at Yahoo Search Marketing.

The study found that 86 percent of parents-to-be and 81 percent of college students turn to search first, before friends and family or offline media. Parents-to-be are generally searching for information on pregnancy, which 68 percent say they find in books, 53 percent get from friends and family, and 37 percent find in magazines. Students are looking for information online that 64 percent of them also find from friends and family, 36 percent find in newspapers, and 24 percent get from TV.

More than half of expectant parents said that search simplified their lives more than magazines, though magazines helped 17 percent of them. TV, meanwhile, simplified the lives of 10 percent of parents-to-be.

“To own a consumer’s point of entry into a product category and develop long-lasting relationships is every marketer’s goal. What we are doing now is gaining more insight into how our customers can accomplish this via search,” Karnstedt said.

The research also confirmed other recent studies that showed many purchasers research online and purchase offline. College students were found to be much more likely to make purchases online, except in the case of big-ticket items, where they still trust offline channels more.

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