PARIS: The internet is playing an increasingly important role in brand purchase planning among French consumers, according to a study by eMarketer on the world's ninth largest population of web users.

The research firm's new report, France Online: Where Brands Matter, found that 78% of "internautes", as the nation's 37 million internet users are known, use brand websites in search of information on products.

A further 54% go to brand websites when looking for an online shop, while 44% are seeking details of nearby stores or resellers.

Consumers' trust of these websites is high, with 30% of French web users believing the information "unreservedly" and 60% with just some scepticism.

As a source of influence on purchase decisions, only loyalty cards were rated higher than brand websites, which French consumers ranked above advertising, opinions of others and direct marketing.

"The strategies French brands are employing to engage consumers online are relevant … throughout the world," said Karin von Abrams, author of the report.

"The focus on brand values and brand priorities among French marketers has led to concrete results that other countries can learn from." 

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff