Study: Packaged Goods Sites Over-Deliver, Over-Spend

While consumer packaged goods manufacturers generally meet consumers’ needs with their brand Web sites, a new study indicates they are also generally over-delivering — and over-spending — on features that consumers care little about. For example, while 38 percent of manufacturers’ Web sites offer games and activities, only 12 percent of online consumers surveyed said they want such offerings.

Conducted by Information Resources Inc., a Chicago-based research group serving the consumer packaged goods industry, the study found, however, that companies are not meeting consumers’ desire for promotional offers from their Web sites. For example, about half of those surveyed said they want free samples, coupons or special offers from the brand sites they visit. But only about 20 percent of manufacturers offer such promotions.

“There has been a lot of hype about the need for companies to build a ‘community’ on their Web sites,” said Brian Murphy, who serves as partner in IRI’s e.Ventures group. “However, our research shows that consumers don’t rely on brand Web sites for community. There are more trusted and complete sources for this on the Web.”

Instead, said Murphy, manufacturers should focus on the basics, such as providing product information, facilitating consumer contact and collecting feedback on product satisfaction and consumer needs.

The study — which consisted of surveys of more than 7,900 primary shoppers and interviews with more than 75 consumer packaged goods manufacturers and retail executives–found that most packaged goods sites offer such features, with 91 percent giving basic product information and 81 percent offering an e-mail address to communicate with the company.

“To date,” said Murphy, “manufacturers have been doing a lot of experimentation with brand Web sites. As brand sites increasingly become part of their marketing mix, manufacturers need to better ensure that they maximize the return on their online investment.”