Brands are still an important influence on online consumers, according to a new study by AOL and the Henley Centre.

However, the research also asserts that customers are becoming less loyal to brands as a result of their online experience.

The study highlights the importance of customer research – 74% of online consumers actively research online before buying, while 76% feel that the internet allows them to make more informed decisions.

The most trusted sources of information were:

  • Search engines – 71%
  • Personal recommendations – 67%
  • Retailer’s websites – 57%
  • Price comparison websites – 56%
  • Online reviews by experts – 50%

The study indicates that the amount of information available on the web makes it more likely that customers will switch brands – 42% of consumers have switched between firms as a result.

Brands still have a lot of influence though – 80% said they preferredto buy online from brands and retailers they were familiar with.

The research also delved into other influences on purchase decisions, with some interesting results:

  • Trust in the website’s abilty to keep details safe – 88%
  • Delivery prices being clear – 87%
  • Usability of the website – 85%
  • Ability to check order status – 78%
  • Being able to take products back to offline store – 66%
  • Ability to access customer reviews – 48%

As for advertising, 51% of consumers said they would pay more attention to an ad on a site they trusted.

Further reading:

Consumers who research online spend more offline – report