August 3, 2004, 12:00 AM

Web outshines catalogs, direct marketing and telemarketing, study says

Nearly 100 million adults made purchases after doing online research last year, coming close to the number of adults who purchased through catalogs, direct-mail ads and telemarketing calls combined, Dieringer Research says in a study released today.

Nearly 100 million adults made purchases after doing online research last year, coming close to the number of adults who purchased through catalogs, direct-mail ads and telemarketing calls combined, The Dieringer Research Group says in a study released today.

Dieringer noted that 114.1 million adults searched for product information on the web last year, and that 98.9 million of this group went on to make purchases either online or offline. By comparison, 106.7 million adults made purchases through catalogs, direct-mail and telemarketing, it added. Dieringer’s annual American Interactive Consumer Survey of 3,000 U.S. adults, which was completed in June, also noted that three out of five adults go online regularly and that the majority of U.S. residents now use the web to shop.

"Consumers` use of the Internet to research products continues to rise, even though the number of people going online for the first time has dropped considerably," said Thomas E. Miller, senior consultant at The Dieringer Research Group. "Our research shows that the Internet now influences the purchase decisions of as many shoppers as mail order catalogs, direct mail, and telemarketing combined."

Online shoppers are also more brand-impressionable online than ever before, Dieringer said. It noted that online research changed opinions toward brands among three out of five shoppers who researched products online before purchasing. "This represents a 20% increase in shoppers whose brand opinions changed online compared to 2003," Dieringer said.

Dieringer, noting that more than half of online adults now also access financial accounts on the web, said that use of online shopping and financial services rises significantly among adults under age 35 and adults with incomes above $75,000. "This means that the earliest adopters of the Internet are also the ones most likely to continue to reap the benefits of going online," Dieringer said.

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