Nearly All Consumers (97%) Now Use Online Media to Shop Locally, According to BIA/Kelsey and ConStat

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New study reveals local consumers access an increasing number of online media sources before buying; use of online coupons and appointment scheduling on the rise

Nearly all consumers (97 percent) now use online media when researching products or services in their local area, according to BIA/Kelsey's ( and User View Wave VII, an ongoing consumer tracking study conducted with research partner ConStat. Among consumers surveyed, 90 percent use search engines, 48 percent use Internet Yellow Pages, 24 percent use vertical sites, and 42 percent use comparison shopping sites.

“The Internet has indeed become an integral part of consumers' local commercial activity,” said Steve Marshall, director of research, BIA/Kelsey. “The data suggest we're at an inflection point where the balance of power in local shopping is shifting to online.”

According to the study, on average, consumers are using 7.9 different media sources when shopping for products or services in their local area, up from 6.5 sources in 2009 and 5.8 in 2008, revealing a noteworthy increase in audience fragmentation. Additional findings include:

  • 58 percent of respondents report using an online coupon when shopping for products or services in their local area in the past year.
  • 19 percent of respondents report making an appointment online in the past six months for a service other than a restaurant reservation (e.g., business appointment, health-care appointment, auto service or personal service such as a beauty shop).

Comments from Marse Designs founder Peter Marse:
So what does this all mean? It means that if you do not have a website for your business, if your website is unattractive or lacks functionality, or if your website cannot be found in the major search engines, then you have a big problem... Potential customers are looking for you online, and you are nowhere to be found. Worse yet, they may be getting the wrong idea about your company from a poorly-designed and implemented website!
  • How will that affect the foot traffic visiting your physical store?
  • How will it affect repeat business?
  • How will it affect customer referrals?
  • How will it affect your online sales and inquiries, appointments, reservations, etc?
  • Will it cause potential customers to shy away from your business altogether, opting instead to search for and visit your competitors?
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