Americans are increasingly relying on the Internet to help them make smart decisions about purchases, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center.
The center found that 58 percent of Americans have done research online about products and services they buy. A similar survey taken in 2004 found that 49 percent of Americans did online research of items they were planning to buy.
The latest survey was administered to 3,001 adults from Aug. 9 through Sept. 13.
“The increase in product and service research online coincides with a general trend in stepped up use of the Internet for commercial activities,” Pew said in its report on the survey.
Pew says the increased use of the Internet to become smarter shoppers also coincides with a big jump in the use of social networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn. The latest survey found that 46 percent of Americans reported using a social network site, a leap from 5 percent in a similar survey in 2005.
The latest findings come as news organizations are facing challenges to their longstanding role, primarily through advertising, of providing information on products and services. Coupons, a steady source of income for newspapers, are now being provided digitally through fast-growing direct marketing companies such as Groupon and the Newspaper Association of America published a paper late last year warning that newspaper inserts, including coupons, are “under siege.”