A new study finds that people better regard the advice of friends and sales associates over the Internet when buying music, cell phones and real estate.   The Pew Internet and American Life Project investigated how consumers purch

ased music, cell phones and real estate (including renting an apartment) and concluded the Internet’s role on purchasing behavior is indirect.   The study, based on telephone interviews with 2,400 adults over the age of 18 from August to September 2007, also suggests that a majority of consumers continue to buy in stores while the Internet is one of many sources people refer to inform their purchases.   "The Internet helps people eliminate irrelevant alternatives," said John Horrigan, Pew's associate director. "The Internet may influence the choice modestly but has important consequences in getting better deals and in having a more focused search process along the way."   Only 7 percent of music purchasers, 10 percent of cell phone buyers, and 11 percent of those buying homes acknowledge the Internet had a major impact on their buying decision. What’s more, while 22 percent of the music customers and 12 percent of cell phone users bought their items over the Internet, no real estate purchases were reported using the Internet.   When researching the best products prior to making a purchase, the study reports the Internet was not the number one source for information.   83 percent of music consumers learn about music from the radio, TV, or in a movie while 64 percent learned about music from family, friends, or co-workers. 59 percent of cell phone shoppers turn to an expert or salesperson for recommendations.   When it comes to real estate, 49 percent of purchasers recalled using the Internet to preview properties, with 57 per cent of those respondents saying the Web helped narrow the list of homes they eventually viewed in person.   By Kathleen Clark   FEEDBACK For comments on this article, email us at editorial@atelier-us.com