The online survey, conducted by Fleishman-Hillard and Harris Interactive, measured the media consumption habits of more than 4,000 people across seven countries.
The findings indicated that globally, consumers considered online research to be a necessary part of the decision- making process when making purchases. In the case of electronic goods for example, 64 % of users reported the Internet as an important step before making a purchase.
Of the seven nations studied, four reported the Internet to be the most important source of information. In the US, participants ranked the Internet as equally important to friends and family for accessing information. .Brian McRoberts, author of the research and SVP in Fleishman's digital research group, said the results show the impact that the Internet had on the lives of consumers and represents a huge opportunity for communications professionals.
“The biggest opportunities, as well as the pitfalls, are search optimization, micro-blogging, and most importantly, mobility," he said. "Communications content needs to be redefined because more and more people are accessing information on mobile devices, rather than through computer monitors.”
The study was conducted among Internet users in China, the US, Japan, Canada, Germany, France, and the UK between December 2009 and January 2010. McRoberts added that next year's study will expand to include Mexico, India, and Brazil.