The increase in product and service research online coincides with a general trend in stepped up use of the internet for commercial activities. Pew Internet Project’s initial surveys:
- The proportion of the general population that has bought products such as books, music, toys or clothing online rose from 22% in May 2000 to 52% in the Project’s May 2010 survey.
- The proportion of the general population that has made travel reservations or bought travel services such airline tickets, hotel rooms, or rental cars rose from 18% in May 2000 to 52% in the Project’s May 2010 survey.
The sharing of product and service information also coincides with increasing use of social networking sites, with 46% of Americans reporting the use of internet sites such as Facebook or LinkedIn. That is an increase from the 5% who reported using social networking sites when the Project first started asking about them in a survey in February 2005. Such sites might be informal channels of commercial information that are shared in social networks, though the Pew Internet survey did not specifically address this aspect.