About six in 10 (59%) online shoppers say user-generated customer product reviews have a significant or good impact on their buying behavior, according to [pdf] a study from the e-tailing group and PowerReviews. Data from “The 2011 Social Shopping Study” indicates that customer reviews have the largest impact by a considerable margin.
The community/social tool affecting the next highest percentage of online shoppers, customer Q&A, has a significant/good impact on 42% of respondents, a figure about 29% smaller than that for customer product reviews. There is another substantial gap in impact rate between customer Q&A and the number three tool, community forums (26%), with other tools such as videos and Facebook fan pages affecting 15% of online shoppers or less.
Considering the importance of online reviews, MarketingVox recommends companies take steps to prevent the growing problem of fake online reviews.
Looking at online shoppers’ usage of the Google Shopping tool, the study finds that about one in three (31%) online shoppers very often or always uses Google Shopping features for both comparing prices and reading product reviews. In both cases the percentage using Google Shopping very often is more than double that using it always. Close to the same percentage (29%) never uses Google Shopping for either of these activities.
Meanwhile, only a combined 22% of online shoppers always or very often use Google Shopping features to find local businesses carrying the products they are looking for. The percentage never using Google Shopping for this purpose is also slightly higher (31%).
Almost six in 10 (58%) online shoppers use reviews and ratings when visiting Amazon.com. This makes Amazon.com the unquestioned leader in consumer use of reviews and ratings out of seven online entities covered by the study. Number two, the broad category of retailer websites, followed with 45% review/rating usage, a 22% drop.
Use of reviews/ratings on search engines occurs at a similar rate to retailer sites (41%). However, few online shoppers use reviews/rating on social networking sites such as Facebook (11%) and Twitter (7%).
Almost half (48%) of online shoppers say reviews and ratings are a critical or very important user-generated research component for retailer sites. Q&A follows a distant second at 31%, with product likes (23%), product likes from people you know (22%) and community forums (18%) following in order of declining popularity.
Online product research takes up a substantial portion of the time many consumers spend shopping, according to other study data indicating that 50% of consumers spend 75% or more of their total shopping time conducting online product research, with 15% spending 90% or more of their shopping time in this manner.
In 2010, only 21% of consumers spent 75% or more of their shopping time conducting online product research, meaning this percentage has more than doubled in one year. Meanwhile, the percentage spending 50-74% of their shopping time conducting online research stayed flat at 29%, as did those spending 1-14% of their shopping time researching products online at 8%.
About the Data: 1,004 adults filled out an online survey. Respondents shopped online four times or more during the past year, spending at least $250 online annually for products and services.
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