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86% of in-store, retail buyers search on generic versus branded keywords

17 October, 2011

13-month study, featuring RadioShack, Audi and a national entertainment brand, explores the role search marketing plays in driving in-store purchase; provides profile of today’s retail shopper

ST. LOUIS — New research from GroupM Search reveals 86 percent of buyers who purchase in-store use generic terms on search engines to inform their purchase decision. The study, featuring consumer electronics retailer RadioShack, luxury automotive brand Audi, and a national entertainment brand, also shows that when a shopper conducts a search online and clicks on a link, 90 percent of those clicks are on the organic listings of a search engine results page (SERP).

Conducted with research partner Kantar Media Compete, and detailed in the white paper “From Intent to In-Store: Search’s Role in the New Retail Shopper Profile,” the study explores the role online search plays in in-store purchases, and takes a close look at consumer search behavior and engagement with the retail element of the brands studied. The research sheds new light on the profile of today’s retail shopper, most notably regarding intent expressed through search activity that drives buyers to make a purchase in-store, and the significant role generic search queries and clicks on organic listings play in a buyer’s purchase decision. It also provides insight into factors that drive the decision to purchase in-store versus online. The findings suggest an opportunity for advertisers to revisit their marketing strategies and how they think about owned and earned media in order to capture traffic and drive greater in-store revenue.

“The Web is influencing more than $1 trillion of in-store sales, and search is the number one online channel for driving that revenue.” said Chris Copeland, CEO, GroupM Search. “This new understanding of the retail shopper represents a behavioral shift. The intent shown in search provides brands an opportunity to maximize their online revenues and encourage and cultivate greater in-store sales.”

The research paints a clear picture that shows shoppers have established search as their lifeline to the buying decisions they make. Ninety-three percent of all buyers, online or in-store, use search. Nearly 80 percent of buyers who use search rate search as very or extremely useful.

The most interesting insights, however, are data around consumer usage of search for in-store shopping, and the intent and activity surrounding these actions. Specifically:
• For in-store buyers, search is about discovery via generic keywords.
o 86 percent of buyers who purchase in-store search on generic terms versus brand terms.
o For search campaigns focused only on direct response, online return on investment (ROI), this understanding presents an opportunity to challenge conventional wisdom and drive greater overall retail sales.
• In-store buyers click on organic listings.
o In addition to the significant percentage of organic clicks that occur when a shopper searches, in-store buyers show a greater propensity to click on a generic link, at a rate of 144 percent over the general shopper (2.5 times more).
o Brands have a strong mandate via this data to further invest in their organic search efforts.
• There is increased store locator visitation among buyers who use search.
o More than 5 percent of traffic measured to an advertiser’s site is store locator activity.
o Consumers want to visit relevant destinations, whether it is a store locator page, or a third-party site. Brands must direct shoppers accordingly.
• Tablets are already an important means by which consumers shop.
o 10 percent of shoppers report using tablets during the retail shopping process.
o The rapid adoption of mobile, and subsequently tablet-driven shopping, is an opportunity that brands must activate against, immediately.

“These findings are consistent with the results of research we have conducted in multiple industries around the important role search plays in a consumer’s path-to-purchase,” said Michael Perlman, Managing Director Online Media & Search at Compete. “Many consumers clearly do not exclusively use either online or offline channels throughout the entire buying cycle, but rather navigate across channels at different stages of the consideration process.”

“Our research efforts are designed to deepen the understanding for our clients of engagement taking place across search and emerging channels, as well as the impact of these channels,” said Copeland. “This research indicates retailers have an opportunity to rethink how their current search efforts – paid and especially organic – can pair with owned and earned media to bridge the gap to the trillions of in-store revenue potential.”

The methodology for the research included clickstream analysis of data captured over a 13-month period, as well as a behavioral survey developed for each of the three brands. A full exploration of the findings from the research and its implications for advertisers is published in the whitepaper available at,  

For more information, contact
Cindy Kerber Spellman
(o) +1 314.682.2055; (c) +1 347.891.1587  

About GroupM Search
GroupM Search is the search marketing specialist division of GroupM, the media buying and planning arm of WPP responsible for more than one-third of the world’s media buying. GroupM Search provides industry-leading search marketing strategies, technology development, research, staffing and training to GroupM communications planning agencies divisions including Maxus, MEC, MediaCom and MindShare, as well as the direct-to-client brands, Catalyst Online and Outrider. Honored by OMMA Magazine and MediaPost as the 2008 Search Marketing Agency of the Year, GroupM Search has the largest global footprint of any other search organization, with more than 800 search marketing strategists spanning 40 countries. Global search marketing perspective from experts across the organization can be found on the GroupM Search blog, SearchFuel (  

About Kantar Media
Established in more than 50 countries, Kantar Media helps clients master the world's multimedia momentum through analysis of print, radio, TV, Internet, cinema, mobile, social media and outdoor worldwide. Kantar Media offers a full range of media insights and audience measurement services through its global business sectors – Intelligence, Audiences, TGI and Custom. Kantar Media companies also include Compete, Cymfony and SRDS. Drawing upon the deepest expertise in the industry, Kantar Media tracks more than 3 million brands and delivers insight to more than 22,000 customers worldwide.

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