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Online Buyers Seek Out User Reviews

Taking advice from strangers.

February 15, 2008

Getting objective opinions has never been easier for consumers. If they don't personally know someone who has used a product or service, they can go online for the thoughts and experiences of millions.

Most online buyers do just that.

PowerReviews and the e-tailing group found that nearly nine out of 10 US online buyers surveyed in February 2008 read customer reviews at least "some of the time" before making a purchase.

"This survey highlights the reception that reviews are receiving throughout the merchant world and how retailers are leveraging online review technology," said Jay Shaffer, vice president of marketing at PowerReviews.

Frequency with Which US Online Buyers Read Customer Reviews before a Product Purchase Decision, 2008 (% of respondents)

Respondents checked a fairly large number of reviews before making their purchasing decisions. Nearly seven out of 10 online buyers surveyed said they checked at least four reviews before spending their money.

Minimum Number of Customer Reviews Required by US Online Buyers before a Product Purchase Decision, 2008 (% of respondents)

The PowerReviews findings agree with other studies on user reviews. Reviews were the most-desired Web functions for US Internet users questioned in the third quarter of 2007 for Forrester Research's "North American Technographics Customer Experience, Marketing and Consumer Technology Online Survey, Q3 2007" report.

Nearly two-thirds of consumers surveyed said they wanted user ratings and reviews. About six out of 10 were more focused on prices, and wanted special offers or coupons and product or price comparison tools.

Website* Content and Functionality Desired by US Internet Users, Q3 2007 (% of respondents)

An October 2007 Avenue A | Razorfish study of US online shoppers found that more than one-half of those surveyed read user reviews as part of their product research.

Online Resource Used Most Frequently by US Online Shoppers for Product Research, July 2007 (% of respondents)

"Consumer-generated media such as those found on ratings and review sites are becoming more influential in the purchase-decision process," said Jeffrey Grau, senior analyst at eMarketer.

The eMarketer User-Generated Content and E-Commerce report will be published in March 2008. Click here to be notified when it is released.


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