New IRI DigitaLink™ Study Demonstrates Increasing Importance of Effective Online Strategies to CPG and Retailers

IRI Expands 2012 Study to Include European Shoppers’ Online Profiles

CHICAGO & LAS VEGAS – More than double the number of U.S. shoppers turned to online social networking in 2012 to follow companies or brands as compared to a year ago, IRI’s new DigitaLink™ segmentation study reveals. In Europe, U.K. shoppers are most likely to compare prices online before making a purchase, buy a CPG product online and purchase a used item from another person online, when compared to both other European shoppers and U.S. shoppers.

“Social networking has impacted the shopping experience like no other influencer in the past”

IRI completed the new DigitaLink study as part of its ongoing analysis into how shoppers research, purchase and use CPG products, where they purchase them and what factors drive shopper decisions. DigitaLink applies IRI analytics capabilities to information from the company’s Consumer Network and MarketPulse™ research to segment shoppers based on their use of online resources, and then assist CPG and retail leadership teams to optimize their social networking strategies.

This year’s DigitaLink study also includes for the first time information about the online habits of French, German, Spanish and U.K. shoppers.

“Social networking has impacted the shopping experience like no other influencer in the past,” says Srishti Gupta, executive vice president and general manager, New Media Solutions, IRI. “However, the level of impact on households varies tremendously. For CPG and retail decision makers to develop and execute social networking strategies with the highest ROI, it’s critical to understand how different households harness online resources. DigitaLink provides this assessment and forms the basis through which CPG and retail leaders can build more effective social networking strategies.”

DigitaLink divides shoppers into five broad segments, based on their opinions and use of digital devices and social networking tools. These include “Show Me the Money,” “Digitize Me!,” “Wired for Work,” “Socializers” and “Technophobes.” Definitions of these segments are available in the press release announcing last year’s DigitaLink findings.

In the United States, “Digitize Me!” Category Nearly Doubles in Size

In addition to the doubling of shoppers following companies or brands on online social networking, other key U.S. findings of the new DigitaLink study include:

  • The “Digitize Me!” segment, those most plugged into online social networking, nearly doubled in size, representing 22 percent of shoppers in this year’s study, as compared to 12 percent of last year’s
  • Shoppers are increasing their use of online social networking to follow retailers for learning about deals, coupons and news at dramatic rates; led by dollar stores, which witnessed a nearly four-fold jump, club stores with a 270 percent increase and drug stores with a 250 percent increase
  • Among the online activities that have grown the most in popularity include using social media sites, such as Facebook and LinkedIn (50 percent state they frequently use these sites versus 37 percent in the 2011 survey), uploading photos (21 percent in 2012 as compared to 11 percent in 2011) and using Twitter (11 percent in 2012 versus 5 percent in 2011)

The new DigitaLink report devotes a section to analyzing the Digitize Me! category, since this group is most likely to tap the capabilities of digital devices and online resources. The report found Digitize Me! shoppers typically access the Internet from more than four devices, spend more time online than the other groups, often simultaneously from multiple devices, personify the concept that mobile is a “behavior,” not a technology, and have fully integrated the Internet into their lives, using it for a broader variety of tasks than any other segment.

“IRI’s new DigitaLink study underscores the need to understand in minute detail all digital influences on shopper behavior and activities,” Gupta continues. “Some segments, such as Digitize Me! shoppers, represent an outstanding opportunity for CPG and retail marketers to impact shoppers with well targeted messages, while others, such as Technophobes, will never generate a digital campaign ROI worth the investment.”

European Shoppers Rely on Online Resources Less

European shoppers generally rely on online resources less than their American counterparts, but with some notable exceptions. U.K. shoppers are more aggressive than Americans about comparing prices online before making a purchase (37 percent versus 34 percent), buying a CPG product online (36 percent versus 24 percent) and buying a used item from another person online (10 percent versus 5 percent). And, they are generally more open to buying a variety of CPG categories online.

Spanish shoppers are more likely to share something they have created themselves, such as artwork, than both their European brethren and U.S. shoppers (12 percent for Spanish shoppers versus 10 percent for Americans). They also tend to tell friends about their online purchases more than other shoppers (9 percent among Spanish shoppers versus 6 percent for Americans).

Shoppers in surveyed European countries are generally less wed to use of the Internet and digital technology than their American counterparts. Fifty-eight percent of surveyed U.S. shoppers agree with the statement, ”It would be difficult for me to give up access to the Internet,” as compared to just 37 percent of Spanish shoppers, for example. Similarly, 42 percent of U.S. shoppers state, ”It would be difficult for me to give up my cell phone,” whereas responses were in the mid-20 percent range for shoppers in most European countries.

Anders Rave, director of analytics and shopper knowledge for IRI in Europe says, “Europeans may spend more time online than American shoppers but when it comes to using online as part of their shopping mix, the U.K. is ahead of the curve. Shoppers across Europe spend more of their online time on the path to purchase looking for information and comparing prices than they do purchasing online compared to American shoppers.”

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