A major study into the role of search engines in generating web traffic for consumer packaged goods has found that a presence on search engines is vital for building brand awareness and driving offline sales.

The US focused survey looked at Consumer packaged goods (CPG) which includes baby care products, homecare, personal care and packaged food. The study was conducted by SEMPO in partnership with comScore, Yahoo and Procter & Gamble.

According to the survey. A majority of US web users visited websites for CPG products in the three months up to April 2007, with search driving a high proportion of those visits in the four CPG categories.

The study also found that a significant percentage of the visitors to CPG websites arrived via search engines. 60% of visitors to baby care websites arrived via search, followed by 47% in food products, 27% in personal care products, and 23% for household products.

According to SEMPO Chairman Gord Hotchkiss:
“While search marketing has long been recognized as an effective direct response vehicle, it’s been largely overlooked by CPG companies who focus on brand advertising and promotional efforts to drive in-store purchasing. This study seeks to demonstrate the potential brand-building impact of search for CPG marketers.”

The study also looked into the differences between web users who arrive at websites via search and those who did not, finding that searchers were more involved in obtaining information and more engaged then non searchers.

73% of searchers were researching products, 64% seeking help with the purchase decision, 47% looking for promotions, while 29% were seeking the company website.

For non-searchers, the main reason was to find information on promotions, 58% for product research, while 44% were looking for help with the purchase decision.

In addition, searchers were bigger spenders, spending an average of 20% more than non searchers.