Online Content Changing Buying Methods
This is a key finding for companies that have been working to build their online content, said Qaalfa Dibeehi, senior analyst at Cyber Dialogue. The information presented to a consumer on a site could mean the difference between consumers buying one manufacturer's product or their competitors.
"If you were making a decision between Honda and Toyota [it could come down to] which has the better site," he said.
Shopping sites also have influenced 77 percent of online shoppers to purchase a different brand, according to the findings.
"Comparison shopping sites present information you weren't necessarily looking for when you started," said Dibeehi. Buyer-opinion sites also influenced the buying decision of 63 percent of the respondents, and 28 percent said banner ads played a role.
From a branding standpoint, what a company does on the Web may have a huge impact as more than 40 percent of online shoppers said their impression of a brand changed as a result of the information they found online.
"What we're seeing is [content is making a difference] in branding," he said. "This is a huge opportunity for manufacturers."
The automotive industry has benefited the most from its extension into the online space. Almost half (41 percent) of the online shoppers said a car company's Web site has changed their impression of specific automotive brand. Nearly one-third of those shoppers (24 percent) reported that the online information led to a purchase of a brand of automobile they might not have otherwise made.
The airlines also stand a lot to gain from having a strong Web presence as 29 percent of respondents said online information changed their opinion of a carrier. Fourteen percent said the information led them to purchase a different brand.
Twenty eight percent of respondents said online information altered their impression of insurance companies and 14 percent made a purchase of brand other than their normal provider.
The findings are part of Cyber Dialogue's 1999 American Internet User Survey of 2,000 consumers.