Manufacturers' Web Sites Have Untapped Potential

April 23, 2001

2 Min Read
Manufacturers' Web Sites Have Untapped Potential

CHICAGO--According to a new survey, manufacturers may be wasting valuable kilobytes by offering consumers games instead of asking them about product satisfaction. The survey, conducted by Information Resources Inc. (IRI), went on to say that a manufacturer's Web site can be a powerful tool in providing product information, facilitating consumer contact and collecting feedback on products and consumer needs.

While collecting data, more than 7,900 people were surveyed between November 2000 through February 2001 about consumer packaged goods (CPG) brand sites that included healthcare, vitamin and beauty care products.

"Our findings show that while manufacturers are doing a lot right when it comes to their brand Web sites, they could still be much more efficient with their spending," said Brian Murphy with IRI, adding that most consumers visit manufacturer Web sites to find contact or product information, which manufacturers generally provide. In particular, the top features consumers want from a manufacturer's site include an 800-number (63 percent) and an e-mail address (61 percent). To date, 69 and 81 percent of CPG manufacturers, respectively, offer this information. In addition, 56 percent of consumers are searching sites for product information, a service that is provided on 91 percent of the time.

However, manufacturers are not taking advantage of the full potential of their sites. According to the survey, 74 percent of consumers are willing to provide product feedback, which only 38 percent of the sites request, and 50 percent of consumers would answer questions about product needs and preferences--an option that is offered on only 31 percent of sites.

Manufacturers are also expanding their sites in the wrong direction, according to IRI. "There has been a lot of hype about the need for companies to build a `community' on their Web sites," Murphy said. "However, our research shows that consumers don't rely on brand Web sites for community." Only 27 percent of consumers look at sites' lifestyle information and a paltry 12 percent of consumers play sites' games and activities.

Instead of spending money on entertaining consumers with functions they do not use, a manufacturer could add tangible incentives to its site. In the survey, approximately 55 percent of consumers want free samples and 48 percent want coupons/special offers; however, only 22 percent and 19 percent, respectively, of manufacturers offer these services.

In addition, there is a lot to be said about follow through. The survey reported that while approximately three-quarters of manufacturers sponsor brand Web sites, less than a third are calculating the return on this investment. For more on this survey--which is part of the larger study, CPG Online: What's Not Clicking for Manufacturers, Retailers and Consumers--visit www.infores.com.

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