Compiled ByDeborah Austin More than ever, consumers are switching brands based upon their online experiences. This year 22.2 million people made that switch at purchase -- up from 19.5 million last year and 13.9 million in 1999 -- estimates a survey of 4,000 U.S. Internet users by market research firm The Dieringer Research Group (DRG), Milwaukee. Of adults with more than five years of online experience, 48% reported having their brand opinions changed by Internet experiences. This compares with 28% of new online users. Of those with changed opinions, 60% switched brands at purchase -- online or offline. Households with $75,000-plus incomes were more likely to switch brands. When seeking manufacturer brand information, 75% of online shoppers used search sites; 54%, retail sites; and 50%, manufacturer sites. Even if companies don't sell directly online, consumers form opinions of their brands based on Internet experiences, says Tom Miller, who directs survey design for DRG. "Ease of finding information on the Internet -- not just ease but communication style -- are playing a huge role in brand perception."