Study: Brand Doesn’t Drive Young Consumers Online

When it comes to shopping online, the question of what’s in a name for
consumers is moot.

According to a new report
from Forrester Research Inc. (FORR),
certain companies don’t need mass-appeal sites and should redirect
their online efforts to banner advertising and sponsorships.

Brands dependent upon high-traffic numbers should focus on providing young
consumers with functionality and utility.

“Although Coke, Nike, and Pizza Hut are still among the favored brands of
today’s young adults, these companies do not generate
high traffic to their sites. Since brand leadership doesn’t necessarily
yield the most clicks, companies must determine whether they need a Web
site at all — or if they will gain brand equity by establishing a
persistent online presence using other means,” said Ekaterina O. Walsh,
analyst at Forrester.

To help companies assess whether a branded product needs its own
mass-appeal, high-traffic site, Forrester developed the Site Need Index
(SNI). SNI measures product characteristics like price, purchase frequency,
online configurability, and intensity of research required.

Applying the SNI to different product categories reveals that consumer
packaged goods are among the least in need of proprietary sites due to low
price and because the purchases occur frequently and impulsively.
Conversely, the SNI demonstrates that technology companies are most in need
of high-traffic sites to build their brands and sell their products,
followed by online retailers, travel, financial services, and automobiles.

Forrester’s analysis of the most visited sites shows that companies
requiring mass-appeal Web sites should focus on functionality and utility,
including strong customer service and technical support — not on games,
chat, or sweepstakes.

When describing the features of their favorite sites, 70 percent of young
consumers highlight “quick loading,” but they also want sites that grab
their attention. Striking a balance between cutting-edge technology and
ease-of-use is crucial, as the sites most frequently visited feature the
latest in animation, MPEG videos, and rich audio, while remaining easy to
navigate and quick to load.

“Assumptions that the young and wired are novelty-obsessed, time-wasting
teens are off-base,” Walsh said.

“Young consumers use the Net for
everything from communicating with their teachers to managing their
financial lives, and they are online 10 hours a week, which is three hours
more than wired adults. Since they represent big numbers and dollars,
marketers must use this new channel to build their brands and sell their
products to the Net generation.”

News Around the Web