Web boosts offline sales

01 February 2012

NEW YORK: Brands which attract consumers to their official websites see meaningful knock-on benefits in terms of in-store sales, a US study has revealed.

Accenture, the consultancy, dunnhumby, the insights group, and comScore, the research firm, looked at the in-store buying behaviour of 1m internet users.

Ten food, beverage and household brands with revenues of $40m–$3bn a year and 100,000+ website visitors a month were also assessed, with the online experience found to influence between 1% and 35% of in-store sales overall.

Consumers logging on to these sites had an average spend some 37% higher on the specific brand in question per month in bricks and mortar stores than was the case for "non-visitors".

Moreover, this difference reached 53% in favour of people accessing the featured websites when it came to their level of category expenditure.

The number of brand units bought by the web audience connecting with brands in this way was typically 48% greater than their counterparts who had not accessed these websites.

When it came to the category price per unit, the engaged online population paid 8% less than their peers, possibly because the group of enthusiastic digital shoppers regularly download coupons.

In dollar terms, visitors to brand websites spent $2.86 on per month on the products covered by the research, versus $2.14 for non-visitors. These figures hit $6.86 and $4.83 respectively in turn for category expenditure.

Equally, the amount of "brand buying occasions" during a six month period stood at 3.2 for the first cohort, falling to 2.3 for the second.

People viewing the websites for the ten best brands by buyer penetration levels spent over 200% more on the relevant products than non-visitors, paying a price per unit that was 2% higher than the norm.

For the leading 25 platforms, 64% of sites actually received fewer than 100,000 visitors a month, while 24% bettered this total but fell short of 200,000 visitors. Just 12% of sites surpassed this benchmark.

"Brand websites can attract and influence the behavior of the most valuable segments of any brand's franchise," Mike Zeman, a vice president at comScore, said.

"But it's clear that the content and utilities on these sites need to be highly engaging if they are to attract a meaningful numbers of visitors. Marketers who do this successfully stand to gain an attractive return by growing their brands' sales in retail stores."

Data sourced from Accenture; additional content by Warc staff