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Local Shoppers Look Online First

90% search online for nearby businesses

The overwhelming majority of US Internet users research online to find local products and services, according to the “User View Wave VII” from BIA/Kelsey and ConStat.

The most common online tool used for local research was search. Nearly one-half of respondents used Internet yellow pages and 42% checked comparison-shopping sites before heading to local businesses.

In summer 2009, TMP Directional Marketing and comScore found that and 46% of local online searchers contacted a business by telephone after Web research, and 37% visited in person.

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

Local advertising dollars will follow eyeballs; BIA/Kelsey expects the Web to get an increasing share of local ad spending over the next several years, reaching one-quarter of the total in 2014.

Over time, the researchers have noted an increase in the number of sources used for local shopping research, suggesting audience fragmentation that can be challenging for advertisers.

“These challenges may be outweighed by the targeting opportunities available with tools like coupon promotions and appointment scheduling, the latter being among the best lead sources possible, since you know where people are actually going,” said Peter Krasilovsky, vice president and program director, Marketplaces, BIA/Kelsey, in a statement.

According to the report, 58% of respondents said they had redeemed an online coupon when shopping locally in the past year, and 19% made a local appointment other than a restaurant reservation on the Web.

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Check out today’s other article, “Marketers Miss Hispanics on Social Sites.”

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