Study: Search Engines Most Popular for Shopping Research

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Search engines are still the most popular online research tool, according to a study released yesterday by search marketing agency iCrossing, New York, and Harris Interactive.

After interviewing more than 2,300 people, the study found that 77 percent of adults who research online before making a purchase decision use search engines. Forty percent of those conducting online research go to search engines first. Still, 57 percent use retailer Web sites to research products before making a decision.

The study also found that the same number of people -- one-third -- search by brand as much they do by general category of product and/or service. Men use search engines more when researching a product: 69 percent compared to 65 percent of women.

More men search by brand -- 34 percent -- compared to 25 percent of women.

"Men buy online with greater purchase frequency than women and also tend to spend more. With increased purchase frequency comes greater familiarity with not only specific products but also specific brands," said Noah Elkin, senior analyst relations manager at iCrossing.

Older online shoppers -- 55 and older -- who use search engines are more likely to click on sponsored links (75 percent) than those ages 18 to 54 (56 percent).

Seventy-four percent who use search engines do so to find out more about the product or service they intend to buy. A smaller number -- 54 percent -- use search engines to find a Web site from which to buy and 43 percent use search to find a local store from which to purchase the products.

The majority of online buyers are price-sensitive. Sixty percent always or often research to find the best price.

"This tendency is most dramatic among shoppers who make online purchases monthly or more frequently," the report said.

Blogs remain a "negligible" source of information for adults conducting research before making a purchase.

"The proliferation of blogs, which have had a dramatic effect on arenas such as current events and politics, have not made much of an impact on consumer e-commerce," the study concluded.

Christine Blank covers online marketing and advertising, including e-mail marketing and paid search, for DM News and To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting


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