Surveys Offer Good News for Online Marketers

A holiday survey released on Oct. 6 shows that 98% of online merchants anticipate sales growth this holiday season. What’s more, 32% of consumers plan to do more of their holiday shopping online this year than last year.

The survey shows that 53% of those who shop online planned to begin in early October, even though 53% of the i.merchants surveyed said they’ll begin holiday promotions after Halloween. Just 14% of online merchants have already launched their holiday promotions.

The poll also shows that 89% of consumers will use the Internet to comparison-shop, 86% to research gifts, 74% to buy gifts, and 53% to buy gifts for themselves.

The research component is becoming a key element of multichannel shopping, according to another survey, from The Dieringer Research Group. Online product research conducted by consumers during the past year drove $180.7 billion in offline spending, according to the report, compared with $106.5 billion in direct online consumer spending. The survey of 3,000 adults covered the 12-month period ending June 2004.

Put another way, consumers spend at least $1.70 offline for every dollar spent directly online after they conduct online research, said Dieringer senior consultant Thomas Miller. Nearly 15% of total U.S. retail spending (excluding gasoline, food services, and inventories) is influenced by the Internet, a much higher ratio than is commonly cited, the Dieringer survey said.

Further, Internet-influenced offline spending is now growing faster than direct online spending. Internet-influenced offline sales grew 31% last year, and direct online sales grew 14%. Total U.S. retail spending grew only 5% during the comparable period.