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Will Stores Become Obsolete?
Nov 19, 2010 (11:11 AM EST)


Americans increase their online shopping, reading reviews and value opinions shared online

NEW YORK, Nov. 19, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- While some stores differentiate themselves based on prices, others attract customers through unparalleled service, or uniquely trained sales personnel.  As Americans increase their online shopping and their reading of product reviews and discussions online, will the in-store shopping experience ultimately become obsolete?

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20100517/NY06256LOGO)

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,258 adults surveyed online between September 1 and 3, 2010 by Harris Interactive.

When asked if, over the past year, the amount of time spent doing various activities online has changed, one quarter of online adults say that they have increased their time spent shopping (24%) online, as well as their time spent reading product reviews (25%).  The age differences here may indicate this trend will continue, as approximately three in ten younger online adults, aged 18-34, say they have increased time spent doing both of these activities (30% and 28%, respectively), compared to fewer than a quarter older online adults, 55 and up, who say the same (22% and 23%, respectively).  

The Changing Art of the Sell

The data suggest that not only are Americans heading online to actually make purchases, but that they are being convinced of what to buy (or not buy) online as well.  Over half of online Americans say that when using social media, they prefer to listen to others share their opinions rather than give their own (53%), and, even more telling, six in ten online adults say they value the opinions other people share on social media (60%).  Although greater numbers of adults who use the Internet seem to go online to hear what others have to say, over a quarter say they have used social media as an outlet to rant or rave about a company, brand or product (28%), as well.  

The Effects of Change

While online shopping can afford consumers with side-by-side price comparisons, countless product reviews, suggestions and opinions, is there also something lost in the experience?  When asked to think about their life and relationships in general, over half of online Americans say that they have had less face-to-face contact with friends recently (54%) and just under a third say they feel lonelier now, than they did previously (31%).  As with the increasing use of online features, younger online adults are experiencing these feelings at greater rates than are older online adults—over half of those 18-34 say they now have less face-to-face contact with friends (56%), compared to fewer than half of adults 55 and older (49%), and 36% of those 18-34 say they feel lonelier now, compared to just a quarter of those 55 and older who agree (26%).

So what?

While the Internet may provide tools and services which can educate consumers, potentially helping them to get the best products for their money, there may be something lost in translation through the solitary experience of communicating and shopping online.  As with many new developments, time will reveal the best practices for adoption and use, working to both solve an issue or improve a system, while also providing users with an enjoyable and beneficial experience.

TABLE 1A
LIFE AND RELATIONSHIPS
"Thinking about your life and relationships in general, please indicate how strongly you agree or disagree with each of the following statements."

Base: All online U.S. adults


Agree (NET)

Strongly agree

Somewhat agree

Disagree (NET)

Somewhat disagree

Strongly disagree

Not applicable

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Recently, I have had less face-to-face contact with friends.

54

21

33

42

26

16

4

I find I keep in touch with more friends now than in the past.

56

21

35

40

29

11

4

I know what's going on with many of my friends and acquaintances, but I don't interact with them personally or individually.

58

15

43

39

27

12

4

I feel more connected to people now than I did previously.

57

18

39

39

29

10

4

I feel lonelier now than I did previously.

31

11

20

63

29

35

6

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding



TABLE 1B

LIFE AND RELATIONSHIPS
"Thinking about your life and relationships in general, please indicate how strongly you agree or disagree with each of the following statements."
Summary of those saying "strongly agree" or "somewhat agree"

Base: All online U.S. adults


Total

Total Uses Social Media

Total Does Not Use Social Media

Age

Gender

18-34

35-44

45-54

55+

Male

Female

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Recently, I have had less face-to-face contact with friends.

54

55

49

56

55

57

49

55

53

I find I keep in touch with more friends now than in the past.

56

58

43

63

56

51

52

53

60

I know what's going on with many of my friends and acquaintances, but I don't interact with them personally or individually.

58

60

44

60

60

55

54

57

58

I feel more connected to people now than I did previously.

57

59

43

63

54

54

53

53

61

I feel lonelier now than I did previously.

31

32

25

36

27

33

26

33

29

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding



TABLE 2A
CHANGE IN TIME SPENT ONLINE
"Over the past year, how, if at all, has the amount of
time you spend doing each of the following things
online changed?"

Base: All online U.S. adults


Increased (NET)

Increased significantly

Increased somewhat

Has not changed

Decreased (NET)

Decreased somewhat

Decreased significantly

Not applicable

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Shopping

24

5

19

50

17

12

5

9

Posting/uploading photos

22

6

16

41

11

7

4

26

Reading newspapers/current events

26

7

19

51

12

8

4

11

Posting or commenting on friends' blogs

14

3

11

33

10

5

4

43

Posting information on my own blog(s)

8

3

6

27

10

6

4

55

Viewing friends'/acquaintances' info and/or photos on social networking sites

34

9

25

34

8

5

3

23

Reading product reviews

25

6

20

51

9

6

3

15

Posting comments/reviews about brands, products or services

13

3

10

43

9

6

4

35

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding



TABLE 2B
CHANGE IN TIME SPENT ONLINE
"Over the past year, how, if at all, has the amount of time you spend doing each of the following things online changed?"
Summary of those saying "increased significantly" or "increased somewhat"

Base: All online U.S. adults


Total

Total Uses Social Media

Total Does Not Use Social Media

Age

Education

18-34

35-44

45-54

55+

H.S. or less

Some college

College grad +

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Shopping

24

25

20

30

22

20

22

22

24

28

Posting/uploading photos

22

23

10

27

25

19

13

18

23

25

Reading newspapers/current events

26

25

29

26

27

26

25

20

27

32

Posting or commenting on friends' blogs

14

16

1

16

14

17

9

12

16

15

Posting information on my own blog(s)

8

9

3

12

11

5

4

6

9

11

Viewing friends'/acquaintances' info and/or photos on social networking sites

34

38

5

39

36

35

26

29

36

38

Reading product reviews

25

26

22

28

26

25

23

23

24

29

Posting comments/reviews about brands, products or services

13

14

6

16

13

14

8

11

15

13

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding



TABLE 3A
OPINIONS ON SOCIAL MEDIA
"Please indicate how strongly you agree or disagree with the following statements."

Base: All U.S. adults who use social media


Agree (NET)

Strongly agree

Somewhat agree

Disagree (NET)

Somewhat disagree

Strongly disagree

Not applicable

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

In general, I prefer to interact with acquaintances using social media, rather than face-to-face.

44

10

34

44

21

23

12

In general, I prefer to interact with friends using social media, rather than face-to-face

23

5

18

67

31

36

11

In general, I prefer to interact with family using social media, rather than face-to-face.

19

5

15

69

25

44

11

When using social media, I prefer to listen to others share their opinions rather than give my own.

53

12

41

31

23

8

16

I value the opinions other people share on social media.

60

10

50

25

18

7

15

I feel important when I give my feedback about brands, products and services in the social media space.

41

9

32

34

21

13

25

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding



TABLE 3B
OPINIONS ON SOCIAL MEDIA
"Please indicate how strongly you agree or disagree with the following statements."
Summary of those saying "strongly agree" or "somewhat agree"

Base: All U.S. adults who use social media


Total

Age

18-34

35-44

45-54

55+

%

%

%

%

%

In general, I prefer to interact with acquaintances using social media, rather than face-to-face.

44

59

44

38

25

In general, I prefer to interact with friends using social media, rather than face-to-face

23

27

27

19

14

In general, I prefer to interact with family using social media, rather than face-to-face.

19

24

22

19

10

When using social media, I prefer to listen to others share their opinions rather than give my own.

53

55

52

53

50

I value the opinions other people share on social media.

60

68

61

58

50

I feel important when I give my feedback about brands, products and services in the social media space.

41

47

43

39

30

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding



TABLE 4
LIFE ON SOCIAL MEDIA
"Please indicate how strongly you agree or disagree with the following statements."

Base: All U.S. adults who use social media


Agree (NET)

Strongly agree

Somewhat agree

Disagree (NET)

Somewhat disagree

Strongly disagree

Not applicable

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

I have used social media as an outlet to rant or rave about a company, brand or product.

28

10

18

57

21

37

15

I understand that by participating in social media, I'm giving up part of my privacy.

80

39

41

10

7

3

10

What I reveal about myself on social networking sites is just a snapshot, not a complete portrait, of who I am.

73

41

32

12

7

5

16

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding



Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between September 1 and 3, 2010 among 2,258 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

The Harris Poll® #143, November 18, 2010

By Samantha Braverman, Project Researcher, Harris Interactive

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in over 215 countries and territories through our North American, European, and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us – and our clients – stay ahead of what's next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.

Press Contact:

Corporate Communications

Harris Interactive

212-539-9600

press@harrisinteractive.net



SOURCE The Harris Poll