NEW YORK (AP) — The Internet is routinely used when making buying decisions, but its influence is small compared with offline channels such as friends and sales personnel, a new study finds.

Sunday's report from the Pew Internet and American Life Project looked at consumer behavior in purchasing music, cell phones and homes or renting apartments. It found the Internet's role to be indirect.

"The Internet helps people eliminate irrelevant alternatives," said John Horrigan, Pew's associate director.

Only about 10 percent of real estate and cell phone buyers and 7 percent of music purchasers credit the Internet with having a major impact on their decision. And only a small portion — 22 percent of the music buyers and 12 percent of cell phone purchasers — ultimately bought their product over the Internet.

"People do cast their information nets widely when doing consumer research," Horrigan said. "At the end of the day, though, it's the offline nugget that has more influence."