Customer Reviews Have Significant Impact on Buying Behavior

*Best of 2010: Consumer Spending Forecasts*

A new study from the e‑tailing group and PowerReviews finds that one-half of Internet users research online before making any type of purchase – on the Web, in a store or through any other method. They typically said doing their own research online saved them time and made them more confident about their purchases. The new “2010 Social Shopping Study” surveyed over 1,000 consumers who shop at least 4 times per year and spend $250 or more annually shopping online, to assess their motivations and preferences regarding online product research and customer reviews.

When surveyed about where consumers are doing research online, the study found that:

  • The majority (57%) of shoppers begin their online research with a search engine
  • The top three places consumers named for finding information online when researching products were retailer sites (65%), brand sites (58 percent) and Amazon​.com (33%)
  • Social Media sites (e.g. Facebook, Twitter) ranked as the place where consumers were least likely (6%) to research

Retailers’ sites played an important role in the research process, and respondents said the most critical capability for a retailer to have was customer reviews. A lack of user-generated reviews would cause nearly one-half (49%) of respondents to leave a retailer’s site.

Though the “2010 Social Shopping Study” found that customer reviews had a strong influence on the purchases of 71% of respondents – while only 25% said the same about Facebook fan pages – an earlier e‑tailing group study of Web merchants found Facebook had caught on so strongly that more planned a presence on the social networking site in the next year than would have customer reviews.

Nearly as many retailers planned to publish on Twitter, but only 17% of respondents to the “2010 Social Shopping Study” said Twitter had a significant effect on their buying decisions. Overall, that survey found social media sites were the place shoppers were least likely to do research (6%).

When surveyed about the tools available for online research, customer reviews were ranked as the #1 social media tool having a positive to significant impact on buying behavior. User-generated reviews were also revealed as the most important capability for retailers to have on their website, beating out customer service information and buying guides/expert opinions.

Customer reviews have become a critical piece of the marketing puzzle, based not only on consumer demand but also on the sales they deliver,” said Pehr Luedtke, CEO of PowerReviews, in a statement.

[Source:  2010 Social Shopping Study.  the e‑tailing group/PowerReviews. Mar. 2010.  Web.  4 May 2010.]