Major CPG brands spend eye-popping sums of money every year across multiple channels trying to convince consumers to buy their products when they walk into the supermarket.

When it comes to how that money is spent, you’re probably more likely to think about high-profile television campaigns than you are to, say, websites. After all, a funny television ad for a cereal probably seems more appealing than a cereal website.

But according to a new study conducted by Accenture, comScore and dunnhumbyUSA, which looked at ten food and household brands with $40m to $3bn in annual sales, CPG brand marketers shouldn’t underestimate the importance of brand websites. That’s because the study found that visitors to a CPG brand website were seen to spend 37% more than non-visitors. They also spent substantially more (53%) within the product category as well.

In looking at CPG brand websites, the study’s authors identified three key factors that correlated with higher in-store sales:

  • Strong and convincing brand messaging.
  • Fresh content.
  • Engaging content.

Brands excelling in the above reaped the biggest rewards. According to Jerry Lohse, senior director at Accenture Interactive, “Analysis shows that consumers visiting the best of the ten CPG brand websites evaluated in the research study, spent over 200 percent more on the brand than non-visitors. Moreover, the research shows that the price paid per unit of the brand at the best of the ten CPG brand websites in the study was two percent more than for non-visitors in brand.

Impressive figures to say the least, raising the question: should CPG marketers be spending more on their websites?

Up to now, connecting the dots between what happens online and the supermarket has been difficult for CPG brands. Building a compelling brand website and making sure it has fresh content (eg. blog posts and polls) and engaging content (eg. games and promotions) isn’t always cheap. And it didn’t always make sense. After all, in some cases, it seemed somewhat improbable that having these things on a CPG website would heavily influence a consumer’s purchasing decision.

But as we learn more about consumers and how they interact with brands across multiple channels, brands should be paying attention, as the opportunities to build meaningful multichannel campaigns could grow significantly in number.

Of course, there are plenty of questions most brands don’t yet have the answers to. How big of a role does traditional (and often costly) advertising have in supporting online initiatives? Should they be promoting their own websites, or Facebook Pages? What offerings and techniques are consumers most receptive to?

It will take time for brands to figure this all out, but the study by Accenture, comScore and dunnhumbyUSA suggests that answering these questions could be quite rewarding.