Monday, 04 December 2017 23:49

Digital media attracts shoppers in bigger numbers, but catalogues still a key channel for many consumers: survey

Digital media attracts shoppers in bigger numbers, but catalogues still a key channel for many consumers: survey Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Advertising in Australia is increasingly moving online, but despite the Internet leading the way for shoppers looking for purchases, other media — including good old fashioned catalogues — are still a favoured medium for many Aussies shopping for some categories of products.

According to the latest survey by Roy Morgan Research, 80% of Australians say the Internet is the "media most useful" for providing purchase-related information in the year to September 2017 – with 70% using Internet Search to find purchase-related information.

Roy Morgan says a closer look at the data it collected also shows that 45% of Australians access other non-search websites directly, a figure more in line with that seen for other media channels.

In fact other media are still considered by many as the most useful way to find information across a variety of categories – and in some categories remain the most useful medium ahead of the Internet.

So, while the Internet is the leading source of information for Australians across most shopping categories these days, there are some categories in which Internet Search clearly dominates all other media, according to the research.

roy morgan graph

The leading category for both Internet, and specifically Internet Search, is travel and accommodation – for which 67% of Australians consider the Internet in general, and 48% of Australians Internet Search in particular, the most useful medium compared to 22% who use non-search websites.

Roy Morgan says that other industries which need to focus their marketing on search engine optimisation to effectively reach potential customers include restaurants – 45% of Australians regard Internet Search as the most useful, used motor vehicles (43%), insurance (43%) and new motor vehicles (42%).

And according to Roy Morgan, catalogues are the media most useful for groceries and alcoholic beverages.

Roy Morgan says that despite the rise of digital media in recent decades there are certain product categories that consumers prefer more traditional media to find out information when they’re buying.

roy morgan graph2

The research firm says there is none larger than the huge Australian grocery market valued at over $103 billion.

Roy Morgan reveals that nearly four million Australians read either Coles Magazine (3,975,000) or rival Woolworth’s Fresh (3,828,000).

And, alongside that wide reach comes recognition by consumers – 45% of Australians regard catalogues as the most useful medium for purchasing groceries compared to 28% for the Internet and less than 5% for each of the other media categories.

Groceries isn’t the only category in which catalogues retain leadership with Australians looking for information to purchase alcohol also favouring catalogues (39%) over the Internet (30%), Newspapers (4%) and all other types of media.

According to Roy Morgan, although Internet Search leads many product categories, it is catalogues that are clearly considered the next best media in many product categories by significant proportions of the population well ahead of other traditional media channels and also ahead of non-search websites on the Internet.

roy morgan graph3

The research shows that more than a quarter of Australians turn to catalogues as the most useful information media when selecting children’s wear (33%), purchasing toys (32%), selecting clothing & fashion (30%), purchasing cosmetics & toiletries (30%) and purchasing small electrical appliances (29%).

Michele Levine, chief executive, Roy Morgan, says the disruption caused to existing advertising models by the rise of digital media doesn’t mean traditional channels for engaging customers should be discarded.

“The Internet looms large as the pre-eminent advertising channel  with close to 50% of all Australia’s $15 billion plus advertising spend now online, and $3.5 billion of ad spend via Internet search alone (approximately 46% of all online spend) with the balance of Internet spending via Internet display advertising and online classifieds,” Levine says.

“However although the Internet enjoys clear advantages in some product categories including travel & accommodation, restaurants, cars and insurance, there are large consumer markets in which consumers turn to other channels for information.

“In Australia’s huge $103 billion+ grocery market which this week welcomed German supermarket giant Kaufland, Australians continue to regard catalogues (45%) as the media most useful for information well ahead of the Internet (28%) and all other media categories. The closely related $15 billion+ alcohol market is also dominated by catalogues (39%) closely followed by Internet (30%) as the media most useful.

“Catalogues are rated highly by consumers for information about selecting children’s wear, purchasing toys, selecting clothing & fashion, purchasing cosmetics & toiletries, purchasing small electrical appliances and purchasing large kitchen/laundry appliances whilst many consumers turn to magazines for information on Home improvements and renovations, Home interiors and furnishings and Health and fitness products and consumers turn to newspapers for information on new and used motor vehicles, real estate, employment and jobs and entertainment services."

Graphics: courtesy Roy Morgan Research

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired in 2020. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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