Not surprisingly, the more screens a consumer uses, the more likely he or she is to discover and research products online, versus offline. While 75% of two-screen (2SCRN) consumers list offline sources like word-of-mouth, catalogs and television as their primary way of discovering new products, that percentage drops to 63% for 4SCRN consumers. And, the more screens consumers use, the more likely they are to welcome digital engagement by marketers post-purchase, according to [pdf] a May 2012 report called “The Multiscreen Marketer,” conducted by eConsultancy on behalf of the the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB).
In an attempt to explore how the multi-screen affects shopping, if at all, consumers were asked to list their top three sources (both online or offline) for becoming aware of new products, researching products and finally, for being kept in touch with by brands.
First Impressions Are Offline
Even among the most connected 4SCRN consumers, new product discovery largely happens offline. Just 25% of 2SCRN consumers cited digital sources of new product awareness, versus 29% among the 3SCRN group and 37% of the 4SCRN group. General and niche websites were most commonly mentioned, but social sources (e.g., Facebook, Twitter) were also quite common.
Digital For Research
All groups prefer online sources of information by significant significant percentages. Even for the relatively disconnected 2SCRN respondents, 61% of cited sources were digital, rising to 72% for those with tablets. Digital rose to 68% among 3SCRN consumers, and 72% among 4SCRN. Among offline sources, the most commonly cited were the personal advice of friends and family, which also manifest digitally. Social networks were mentioned frequently, second only to searching directly for product information.
Preference for Post-Purchase Engagement
The ways in which companies keep consumers informed after a purchase are limited. Catalogs and direct mail are the most often cited of offline channels, and by a slight margin (51% to 49%), 2SCRNs prefer these methods. But for most three and four screen respondents, digital is more convenient, rising to 62%. Email is the by far the top choice among online channels, followed by connecting with the brand through social networks.
About the Data: The study was conducted by Econsultancy on behalf of the IAB. It was fielded online on April 19, 2012 to a Survey Sampling panel comprised of US consumers ages 18 and over. Tablet owners were over-sampled to ensure sufficient data for that audience. The survey closed on April 25, 2012 with 1,851 qualified responses.