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Online Reviews Sway Shoppers

Consumers look for peer opinions.

Consumer reviews play a big part in purchase decisions for online shoppers in the US, according to a June 2008 Opinion Research Corporation study.

A full 61% of respondents said they had checked online reviews, blogs and other online customer feedback before buying a new product or service. Search engines were the preferred way to research purchases. Of those who looked for reviews and other feedback, more than eight out of 10 said such evaluations had at least some influence on their purchases.

"Businesses today exist in an era in which it's nearly impossible to escape the likelihood of being evaluated." said Linda Shea, senior vice president at Opinion Research, in a statement, "There's nowhere to hide."

The company also found that 38% of respondents first checked online product or service reviews when starting shopping research.

Online shoppers value product reviews from other consumers (29.6%) even more highly than professional reviews (21.3%), according to an InQuira-commissioned survey conducted in 2008 by Service Excellence Research Group.

It is not just new online shoppers who look for the opinions of other consumers, according to a February 2008 study commissioned by PowerReviews and conducted by the e-tailing group. Nearly one-half of US consumers surveyed who shopped online four or more times per year and spent at least $500 said they needed four to seven customer reviews before making a purchase decision.

Get the online buying outlook for the rest of the year. Read eMarketer's US Retail E-Commerce: Slower But Still Steady Growth report.

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