May 15, 2006, 12:00 AM

Online research is critical in consumers’ offline purchases, study finds

Helping consumers make purchase decisions is the Internet’s greatest impact on shopping, whether or not purchases are made online or at stores, according to a new study from Yahoo and OMD.

Helping consumers make decisions on purchases is the Internet’s greatest impact on shopping, whether purchases are made online or at stores, according to a new study from Yahoo Inc. and OMD, a media communications specialist.

A large majority of consumers go online for information as a core part of the purchase process for all kinds of products, the study found. 54% of consumers said the Internet is the most trusted shopping information source, followed by magazines (34%) and TV (23%).

“The Internet is far more than just another point of purchase,” said Wenda Harris Millard, Yahoo’s chief sales officer. “Its biggest impact lies within the awareness and consideration process.”

74% of those surveyed said they use trusted, familiar web sites when purchasing online, and 55% opt-in for e-mail marketing messages from companies they trust, according to the report.

The study also found that consumers on average consider three brands before making a purchase. And while many comparison shop using the Internet, 38% of consumers still want to see and touch products before they buy. 61% said Internet search engines are one of their favorite tools for finding product information.

Yahoo and OMD surveyed 4,301 adults aged 18 and over from March 15-22. The samples was drawn from Ipsos’ U.S. online panel.

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