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Catalogues and internet vie for Aussies’ shopping attention

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), April 2012 – March 2013 (n = 51,172).

In one corner: the latest Ikea catalogue, promising hours of browsing pleasure within its glossy pages. In the other corner:, complete with personalised recommendations and books at crazy-cheap prices. Forget Ali vs Frazer: the real showdown is between printed catalogues and the internet. Which medium is more useful when it comes time to research your next purchase?  

Well, that depends what you’re shopping for, according to the latest findings from Roy Morgan Research…

Internet: popular for big purchases

In the market for a new or used car? More than half (52%) of Australians aged 14+ think the internet is a good place to start looking for a used vehicle, and 46% think it’s useful for researching a new car. The internet is also favoured by people looking to buy car parts (36%), although 19% of the population find catalogues useful in this instance too.

Catalogues vs internet: which one do Australians find more useful for making purchases?


Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), April 2012 – March 2013 (n = 51,172).

Researching real estate is another example of when Australians prefer to go online, with 48% naming the internet as the most useful media for this purpose. Many people (47%) also use it to source information about home (or other) loans, insurance (47%), and purchasing computers (43%).

Catalogues: still number one for many

Despite its popularity, the internet is not the One-Stop Shop it’s often made out to be. Australians still find printed catalogues more useful when they’re considering certain kinds of purchases: groceries (51%), toys (43%), kids’ clothing (42%) and cosmetics (38%), to name a few.

Interestingly, given the growing popularity of online fashion shopping, more Australians (38%) prefer to look at catalogues when considering clothing purchases than the internet (21%). Catalogues also reign supreme for Aussies looking to buy alcohol: 43% consider them the most useful source of information, with the internet a distant second (15%).

Close competition

For other product categories, preferences aren’t so clear cut. For example, while 32% of Aussies find the internet most useful for purchasing CDs and DVDs, 31% prefer catalogues. It’s a similar scenario among Australians shopping for home interiors and furnishings: 23% like to consult catalogues and 25% prefer to go online. When it comes to purchasing home entertainment and electronics, it’s a draw: 31% of Australians prefer the internet and 31% prefer catalogues.

George Pesutto, General Manager – Media & Communications, Roy Morgan Research, says:

“While online shopping is undoubtedly here to stay, many Australians, when in that purchasing frame of mind, still prefer to leaf through a printed catalogue, especially for smaller items like clothes and groceries.

“In an era where the choices of where to advertise seem to be growing exponentially, it should be comforting to advertisers that traditional mass media are still considered important to consumers when making the final decision.

“Of course, Australians are becoming more and more comfortable with online research and shopping, which offers an exciting opportunity for retailers also. 

“In the end though, the continued popularity of printed catalogues sends a loud, clear message to marketers: we may be living in a digital age, but printed communication is still one of the most effective ways of reaching consumers in the market to buy.”

Visit the Roy Morgan Online Store to access an extensive range of Media Most Useful profiles including profiles of consumers find catalogues most useful and those who find the internet most useful. These profiles provide an overview of consumer demographics, attitudes, activities and media usage.

For comments or more information please contact:

George Pesutto

General Manager – Media & Communications

Office: +61 (3) 9224 5206



About Roy Morgan Research

Roy Morgan Research is the largest independent Australian research company, with offices in each state of Australia, as well as in New Zealand, the United States and the United Kingdom. A full service research organisation specialising in omnibus and syndicated data, Roy Morgan Research has over 70 years’ experience in collecting objective, independent information on consumers.

In Australia, Roy Morgan Research is considered to be the authoritative source of information on financial behaviour, readership, voting intentions and consumer confidence. Roy Morgan Research is a specialist in recontact customised surveys which provide invaluable and effective qualitative and quantitative information regarding customers and target markets.

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size

Percentage Estimate


25% or 75%

10% or 90%

5% or 95%