When it comes to purchasing consumer electronics (CE), the vast majority (94%) of buyers conduct at least a single activity to form an opinion about a product, and searching for reviews online is the primary way they seek out product opinions, reading an average of 11 reviews before choosing a product. As it turns out, according to survey results from Weber Shandwick [pdf], buyers tend to focus more on consumer reviews than professional reviews in this all-important process.
The study examined attitudes towards reviews across 10 CE products, finding that preference for consumer reviews over professional reviews ranged from 61-79% across those categories. Respondents were most likely to consult consumer reviews for stereo headphones or earbuds (79%), and least likely to do so (while remaining solidly in the majority) for personal computers, laptops and tablets (each at 61%). For CE products in general, respondents were more than three times as likely to pay attention to consumer reviews as to focus on professional reviews (77% vs. 23%).
For the most part, the responses demonstrated that reviews become increasingly important alongside increasing product prices. That is, for products costing less than $100, less than one-quarter of CE buyers said they consult consumer (23%) or professional (18%) reviews. As pricing climbs the scale to the $5,000 or higher price point, reliance on consumer and professional reviews increases to 50% and 44%, respectively. (Of note, the proportion of respondents using reviews is actually highest for the $1,000-$4,999 range.)
The Weber Shandwick findings come after recent survey results from Ipsos showing that 78% of online Americans aged 18-64 agree that online reviews help them decide whether or not to purchase a product, including roughly one-third who very much agree.
About the Data: Weber Shandwick partnered with KRC Research to conduct Buy It, Try It, Rate It, an online survey conducted in September 2012 of 2,004 American adults who’d recently made one or more purchases of consumer electronics (CE) products like smartphones, tablets, cameras or TVs.