Over two-thirds – 70% – of UK online users rate online product ratings and reviews the most helpful feature when researching products to buy online or offline, while 97% are willing to trust online reviews, according to a study from Jupiter Research and Bazaarvoice.
Product-comparison tools, images, and themed product categories – such as top rated or most popular – polled 57%, 51% and 19%, respectively. (Respondents were asked to select their top three most helpful sources from 10 categories.)
The online survey sought to gain insights into user-generated content and how it influences consumers’ shopping habits.
Some 65% of online users said they research products online before buying online, and 56% said they research products on the web and then purchase offline.
Trust in online reviews was found to be at its greatest when readers heard both sides of the story:
- 56% cited they trust a review when it offered both pros and cons of specific product attributes.
- Almost half (49%) said they trusted reviews when both positive and negative reviews were presented about a product.
The study also revealed that online customer reviews are five times more influential than TV ads in the case of online users when they are contemplating purchase decisions:
- Over half (53%) of respondents rated customer reviews as the most helpful source when gathering product quality and performance information, compared with other resources, such as friends’ recommendations or ads.
- Just 11% of online users, for example, cited TV adverts as the most helpful source.
- Recommendations from friends came second after customer reviews – just under half (47%) said they valued these the most.
- 4% said magazine and radio adverts were a major influence when deciding what to buy.
“UK consumers’ high demand for rating and review content along with other findings in this research aligns with what we have consistently seen in the US,” said Sam Decker, Chief Marketing Officer at Bazaarvoice. “This research also clearly shows that consumers want authentic, balanced feedback, and that in the main they feel ratings and reviews are trustworthy.”
About the study: Jupiter Research’s and Bazaarvoice’s survey of 1,000 online shoppers was carried out December 12-19, 2007.