Consumers, Manufacturers Don't Mesh on Site Offerings

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Information Resource releases new study data today showing that though consumer packaged goods manufacturers generally meet consumers' needs with their brand Web sites, they often over-deliver and, according to Information Resource, over-spend on features that consumers care little about.

For example, while 38 percent of manufacturers' Web sites offer games and activities and 41 percent feature lifestyle information, the survey found that only 12 percent and 27 percent of online consumers, respectively, want such community offerings.

The study, "CPG Online: What's Not Clicking for Manufacturers, Retailers, and Consumers," consisted of an online survey of more than 7,900 primary shoppers done by Harris Interactive, Rochester, NY, and interviews with more than 75 CPG manufacturer and retail executives conducted by PERT Survey Research, Bloomfield, CT. The surveys were done from November 2000 through February.

Findings also show that companies do not meet consumers' desire for promotional offers from their Web sites. About half the consumers surveyed want free samples (55 percent) and coupons/special offers (48 percent) from the brand sites they visit. Only 22 percent and 19 percent of manufacturers, respectively, offer these features.

The study defined consumer packaged goods as products in healthcare, vitamins, beauty care, food and beverages, perishables, frozen foods, household supplies, baby care and pet food.

The study found that most consumers visit manufacturer Web sites to find company-contact and/or basic product information, and that CPG companies generally satisfy these needs. The two features consumers want most in a brand Web site are an 800 number (63 percent) and an e-mail address (61 percent) with which to communicate with the company. The survey shows that 69 percent and 81 percent of companies, respectively, offer this information.

As for obtaining useful information from consumers, the survey found that though 74 percent of consumers are willing to provide product satisfaction feedback at a Web site and 50 percent might answer questions about their product needs and preferences, only 38 percent and 31 percent of manufacturers, respectively, ask for that type of information.

Also, though 72 percent of manufacturers sponsor brand Web sites, less than one-third of these companies attempt to calculate their return on investment.

Information Resources, Chicago, is a provider of UPC scanner-based solutions to the consumer packaged goods industry.

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