Consumers are using their home PCs and their smartphones to research products and services online like never before. They’re not just reading about price and availability. They are also checking out online reviews and savvy marketers are taking more steps to ensure that their online reputations are looking good.
One major finding of the recently published Cone Trend Tracker is the growing influence of negative online reviews. Positive online reviews have always played a big role in influencing consumers who are ready to make a purchase. In the past year, 87% of consumers reported that a positive review has swayed them to go ahead and buy. But, nearly 80% also say a negative review has caused them to change their minds with respect to a purchase. This number reflects a big jump from previous years.
The Cone study also found that consumers are more likely to turn to online reviews when they’re in the process of purchasing a high-ticket item such as a car. About 89% of surveyed consumers said that the purchase process in these cases included checking out recommendations online. Consumers are visiting several types of online sites in their research process:
- Consumer/user reviews: 64%
- Search on ratings websites: 50%
- Read product/service expert opinions: 43%
- Read articles/blog posts on the product/service: 42$
- Ask for opinions on their social networks: 12%
The top industries for which consumers do online product research include automotive/transportation, electronics and household appliances, and telecommunications. These industries, in particular, should be working hard to maintain a positive online reputation, a highly visible web presence and to populate their websites compelling product and service content.[Source: 2011 Cone Online Influence Trend Tracker. Coneinc.com. 30 Aug. 2011. Web. 22 Sep. 2011]