Connected consumers are personalizing their own web content and are snacking on interactive videos and blogs as a way to interact with brands, according to research released this week by Avenue A | Razorfish, which suggests that marketers should think beyond isolated websites and banner ads as a way to build a better online brand.
“Our study helps us understand what people desire, what frustrates them, how they feel about social media, and ultimately what drives them to purchase online or not,” said Garrick Schmitt, vice-president for User Experience at Avenue A | Razorfish and editor of the report.
An underlying theme of the report – “Digital Design Outlook: Fast Forward – Design for Constant Change,” a consumer-behavior study – is that designing online experiences, rather than websites per se, is what’s important to reach connected consumers*.
Some highlights of the study’s findings regarding connected consumers:
- Most connected consumers are increasingly personalizing their digital experiences and sampling a wide range of digital niche content:
- Most (60%) personalize their home/start pages.
- Most – 56% – have used RSS.
- The desire to personalize and sample niche content impacts consumer’s digital behavior, cutting into the reach of traditional media outlets (newspapers, TV, magazines, etc.):
- Nearly 70% read blogs on a routine basis, and 41% have their own blog or post frequently to blogs.
- 46% of consumers who responded to the survey read four or more blogs on a regular basis.
- The trend toward niche content is similar for music and video consumption:
- 67% of connected consumers watch videos on YouTube or similar sites regularly and 42% purchase music online.
- 85% have watched a movie preview online before going to see the film at a theater.
- 58% have used a service to download (iTunes) or order (Netflix/Blockbuster) films online.
- 71% have watched a TV show online.
- 91% rely on the web to get current news or information.
- Personalization has affected online and multichannel retailers, as well, with connected consumers reacting positively to recommendation engines and personalized services:
- 62% have made a purchase based on personalized recommendations (e.g., Amazon.com).
- 72% find such services helpful.
- Retailers’ relationship with consumers appears to be increasingly disintermediated:
- 54% of connected consumers start their shopping experience at a general search engine.
- Just 30% either visit the site of an established retail store or a specific e-commerce site (e.g., Amazon).
- 38% of consumers say price is the most important criterion in deciding where to purchase online, though the same proportion also cite known or respected sites.
- The desire to interact with others regularly is a fundamental shift online:
- More than 50% say social-networking sites help them stay in touch with people.
- 49% have uploaded a video in the previous three months.
- 41% write or post to blogs.
- 53% share bookmarks with others through services like del.icio.us.
- 41% use photo-sharing sites such as Flickr.
- The influence of online interactions is significant:
- 55% say user-generated reviews and ratings are the biggest factor in purchasing decisions.
- 82% have read and/or browsed by “most popular” or “most-emailed” features.
- 35% have used tag clouds.
Visit Avenue A | Razorfish site to download the PDF of the full report.
*About the study: According to Schmitt, the key characteristics of the “connected consumer” include acess to broadband, online spend ofÂ $200 in the previous year, visits to “community sites” and geographic, economic and demographic diversity. “The  respondents, who we recruited through a research firm and then surveyed online, track pretty closely to the 40-50% of the US (depending on what report you read) that have broadband,”Â he writes.