Nearly 60 million Americans accessed financial services information on the Web last year, but most applied for products off-line rather than online, according to a survey by Milwaukee-based consultancy The Dieringer Research Group.
Based on a survey of 4000 US adults, the consultancy estimates that 58.7 million Americans turned to the Web for financial information and of this total, 63%, or 36.8 million, followed up by applying for products offline compared to only 21.8 million who signed up online.
"Financial service consumers who use the Internet as a shopping tool are about 70% more likely to apply for services offline than online," says Thomas Miller, senior consultant at The Dieringer Research Group. "Moreover, the offline applicants appear to be significantly more brand loyal."
He adds that this finding underscores the importance of improving integration of multi-channel marketing to maximise customer loyalty.
According to the report, 24 million consumers sought product information on credit cards and for investment purposes. There was also an increase in the use of the Internet for accessing information about loans, mortgages and insurance products in particular, with nearly 20 million consumers in each of these categories.
The research found that there was little demographic difference between shoppers who applied online and those who didn't, but one exception is in loans where applicants who applied via the Internet were significantly more likely to be an ethnic minority or to have lost a job recently. Another exception was found among mortgage seekers, where offline applicants had significantly higher education and income.