Search Influenced $15.2 Billion In Consumer Electronics Spending Through First Half

As the latest in an ongoing series of studies that capture the evolving and complex nature of consumer behavior today, Yahoo yesterday released findings from a joint study conducted with the Consumer Electronics Association. The study was fielded in June of this year and surveyed more than 2,000 U.S. adults who were pre-qualified as intending to make consumer electronics (CE) purchases.

The study looked at five CE categories: cell phones, computers, digital cameras, MP3 players and televisions. Below are the top-level findings:

  • The amount of online research was tied directly to the price of the product. Because higher priced products are more "considered" purchases, people spent more time doing online research. The range of time was nine hours for cell phones at the low end and 15 hours for TVs at the high end. The average duration of online research prior to purchase was 12 hours.

  • Of all purchasers of CE products in the study, online buyers were a significant minority (29%), while most purchases happened in local stores (71%). Of those buying offline, almost three quarters conducted online research prior to purchase.

  • Search engines in particular were used by 45% of the survey population that ultimately purchased in a local retail store.

  • On average CE consumers in the study used visited six manufacturer and/or retail sites before purchase. In navigating to those sites 55% used a search engine to go to the site, while 46% directly entered a URL. Approximately 10% followed a link from another site.

  • In terms of the range of sources used by purchasers (both online and off), the top four in order were as follows: 1) Internet 2) print 3) word of mouth 4) retail/other.

  • In terms of recall, CE consumers remembered seeing ads in various media in the following order: 1) print ads in magazines or newspapers 2) TV ads 3) Internet display ads 4) email 5) radio and 6) billboards. For Internet display advertising 40% indicated they recalled seeing an ad for the product.

  • One of the conclusions of the study was that of the $32.5 billion spent on the five consumer electronics categories in the first six months of the year, online research influenced $25.1 billion of that spending. Among the online sources, the study also concluded that search had a direct or indirect influence on $15.2 billion of CE buying.

Finally, the study examined the differences between “searchers” and “non-searchers,” "based on self-reported search engine usage during their research and purchase process." This is what the research determined:

"Searchers, defined as those who use search to research CE goods, represent 47 percent of the offline and online purchasers surveyed. They are more educated about what they buy, increasingly likely to advocate brands by word-of-mouth and are often considered a resource of information by friends and family. They consider more brands and are 114 percent more likely to consider Internet display advertising in their research process."