TV shoppers often change channels when it’s time to buy

TV shopping shows drive many consumers to investigate the products presented, although only 16% immediately pick up the phone to buy, Forrester Research says. Consumers interested in a product they saw on TV are more likely to buy online or in stores.

Paul Demery

Televised shopping shows and infomercials remain powerful ways to interest consumers in buying-but the purchase is more likely to be completed on the web or in a store, according to a new study by Forrester Research.

16% of consumers surveyed said they called in an order in the past year after watching a home shopping show or extended product commercial, or infomercial. But 36% said the TV show prompted them to go to a web portal, 40% to the advertised web site, 44% to a physical store and 58% to a search engine. Respondents could select more than one answer.

Those results show television still works, says Lisa Bradner, a senior analyst at Forrester and author of the study “Mapping the Path to Purchase.” “People are actively, aggressively seeking out information on the basis of seeing that TV spot,” Bradner said yesterday at a session of the Electronic Retailing Association’s 2008 eRetailer Summit in Miami. ERA, a trade group for direct response marketers, sponsored the study.

Of those consumers who went to web portals, 82% said they wanted to compare prices and 61% said they were seeking more information. “People leave the TV spots wanting more information,” Bradner said. 55% of those who went to portals ultimately purchased the product, the survey showed.

Among those who went to search engines, 84% said the engine helped them find more information. But 34% said they went to a search engine because they could not remember the URL of the retailer. “Search engines are a great memory jogger,” Bradner noted.

87% of those who went from the TV to the product manufacturer’s web site said they wanted more information and 57% wanted to find out if they could purchase it in a bricks-and-mortar store. Nearly 60% of these consumers say they ultimately purchased the product, although not necessarily from the manufacturer’s site.

49% said they purchased at the company’s web site after completing their online research, 38% purchased from a store, 31% came back later to purchase at the company’s web site, 22% bought from a shopping portal or other web site, 20% called the toll-free number to purchase after visiting the company’s site, and 7% said they made the purchase by phone at a later date. Respondents could select more than one answer as they may have taken more than one action in the past year.

“It can be a very long path to purchase,” Bradner said, summarizing the results.

She encouraged direct marketers to complement their televised promotions with rich web sites that provide the information consumers want. “As consumers move more online, making sure the information you provide online is complete and connects with them emotionally becomes more important,” Bradner said. “Fewer people are going to sit through that 30-minute show.”


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