More CE Purchases Preceded By Online Research

By Colleen Bohen On Nov 6 2006 - 8:00am

Online research could influence as much as $25 billion in sales over a six-month period, according to a recently released report based on a study sponsored by CEA and Yahoo called "Understanding How Consumers Use the Internet to Research & Shop for CE Products."

The study revealed that Internet research plays a key role for many consumers as they prepare to purchase CE products no matter if they make their end purchase online or not. It found that while 71 percent of CE consumers made their purchase offline, almost three quarters of those consumers researched the products online beforehand.

The survey was conducted in June by Hall and with a sample of both consumers who intend to purchase consumer electronics and consumers who have already purchased consumer electronics devices in the past six months. The study focused primarily on five CE categories: TVs, digital cameras, cellphones, computer/notebooks, and digital music players.

Forty-seven percent of researching purchasers used search engines in the past six months. The study found that the most common CE keywords used were general terms, 66 percent of which were related to products. "MP3 player," "digital music player," "laptop" or "desktop computer," and "cellphone reviews," were among the examples given. Product terms were immediately followed by brand names which were used by 33 percent of those who said they used search engines.

Out of 1,840 consumers who had purchased consumer electronics products, 1,416 (or 61 percent) said they spend more than a week researching and 77 percent used the Web for their research. Study participants said they researched online for an average of 12 hours.

In all, purchasers said they relied on an average of six sources of information when researching their products. CEA said that purchasers admitted to a net of 21 sources, led by online resources which were used by 77 percent of purchasers, followed by print sources at 69 percent, word of mouth at 61 percent and retail and other sources at 55 percent.

Of the top five resources, three were Web-related resources. They included search engines, manufacturer Web sites and retail Web sites.

The study found that the Internet is playing an increasing role in influencing consumers beyond simple research as well. In the advertising realm, the study found that 920 purchasers remembered seeing ads for the devices they purchased. While print and television ads still took the lead at 62 and 50 percent respectively, Internet display advertising and e-mail messages from companies were next in line at 40 percent and 20 percent respectively as being remembered by surveyed purchasers. Both methods proved to be more effective than radio ads and billboards which were said to have been remembered by only 8 percent of purchasers in each case.

When asked how many brands they had considered before making a purchase, television shoppers admitted to considering an average of five brands. Digital camera shoppers considered an average of four brands and cellphone and computer consumers said they considered an average of three brands before making a purchase.

Among those surveyed who said they intended to purchase consumer electronics, a significant number admitted that they might also be in the market for additional CE product categories. For example, of those that said they were in the market for a new computer, 45 percent said they were also in the market for cellphones, 30 percent for digital cameras and 28 percent for TVs.

CEA member companies can gain free access to an executive summary of the study at

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