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For men 18 and older, TV advertising is no longer the main influencer in purchasing decisions – just 22% say it is (down 8 points), compared with 24% who now cite advertising inserts as the most influential medium, according to the Customer Focus: Decade of Data report from Vertis Communications.

Overall, 27% of total adults survey said they turn to inserts when making a purchasing decision, compared with just 19% 10 years ago, when only 16% of men 18 and older cited the medium as the main influencer.

Decade of Data, based on a survey of 3,000 consumers via telephone, also reveals that young adults have drifted away from personal interaction when choosing leisure activities:

  • Since 1998, the number of young adults participating in team sports has decreased from 19% to 13%.
  • The amount of time spent with computers has drastically increased, from 8% to 21%.
  • The number of young adults going out to the movies has decreased from 13% in 1998 to just 3% in 2008.
  • The number of adolescents staying home to watch television or rent videos has increased from 24% in 1998 to 32% in 2008.

Below, other key findings from Customer Focus: Decade of Data.

The Rise of Single, Influential Women

  • In 1998, only 69% of women age 18-24 reported being involved in the decision-making process when purchasing home electronics; in 2008, 91% report they are a part of that process, with cell phones, desktop computers and digital cameras among their most popular purchases.

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  • Considered late adopters, 68% of women age 50 and older now have access to the internet, up from 30% in 1998.

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  • In the past 10 years, the percentage of women age 25-34 who are single or living with their significant others has increased 8 points, from 30% in 1998 to 38% in 2008.

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  • The number of women who report having an undergraduate or graduate degree has increased drastically in the last decade, from 28% to 41%.

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Today’s Consumers Socially Responsible, More Informed

  • Today’s consumers rally around victims of natural disasters and are more focused on making social connections: In 2005, when this attitude emerged following Hurricane Katrina, more than 85% of adults had responded to a charitable appeal, surpassing the 77% that responded immediately after the events of 9/11.

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  • Also, since 2004, fewer shoppers visit a store without first researching their purchases, hinting that today’s consumers are much more educated about their buying decisions: Prior to entering a store in 2008, approximately 57% of adults say they will look through advertising circulars, 50% say they will conduct research on the internet, and 38% say they will use catalogs for information.

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  • In 2004, 31% of adults indicated that  they entered a store without any prior research; this number is down to 17% in 2008.

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Impact of 9/11, Economy

  • Immediately before the 9/11 tragedy, Vertis’s Customer Focus data showed almost 38% of Americans were planning to purchase a new or used vehicle within the next 12 months. Just four months later, this number decreased to 22%, while the number of Americans planning to purchase a new car decreased by 50%.

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  • After 9/11, approximately 16% of adults reported making fewer large-ticket purchases totaling $100 or more.

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  • Interestingly, in an environment of a crisis in housing market and higher gas prices, 40% of Americans indicated they’re less likely to make purchases over $100 in the coming year, 24 percentage points more than after 9/11.

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Auto Purchases Rising, Vacation Auto Travel Down

  • Among automobile shoppers, more are likely to purchase a new car in 2008, with the percentage growing from 58% in 1998 to 70% in 2007.

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  • In addition, more adults are planning to buy a used car or truck, up from 45% saying so in 1998 to 53% in 2007.
  • However, adults are shifting their vacation agendas in 2008 to include fewer trips via automobile, the percentage decreasing 5 points since 1998.
  • Fewer adults are planning to take a vacation in 2008, down from 70% 10 years ago to 67% today.

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  • Plans to travel via air while on vacation have increased slightly in the past decade, from 40% in 1998 to 43% today.

More about the study is available from the Vertis website, including a PDF copy.

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