Putting the Reviews Debate to Rest

When reviews first started showing up in the local segment there was a debate about whether they would alienate advertisers and whether they were optional or mandatory from a consumer standpoint. Over the course of the past three years that question has been answered many times: yes they’re mandatory and yes they’re challenging from an advertiser POV (though most SMBs have a positive view of reviews).

Here’s relevant online consumer data that Nielsen put out in December (n=1,000):

  • 81%  of online shoppers have read product or retailer reviews by other customers when doing their holiday shopping this year
  • 71% agree that consumer reviews make them more comfortable that they are buying the right product
  • 63% of online shoppers indicated that it was important to have multiple reviews for each product
  • 14 % looked for reviews from an established source
  • 3%  sought out reviews by people they knew personally

Here are some of the charts (all Nielsen created):

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Note in Table 3 that people are doing price comparisons and inventory checks to the extent they can before visiting the store. And 12% said they ordered online and picked up in store (see Krillion, NearbyNow).

Also, in Table 4 note the role of trust/brand in the decision of which sites to visit (direct navigation). Search followed probably after a generic product search (e.g., “All Clad 14 inch pan”).

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Will Scott pointed out that these are datapoints related to product shopping. Here’s a post that contains a range of data on consumers’ use of reviews in a service business context.

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9 Responses to “Putting the Reviews Debate to Rest”

  1. Will Scott Says:

    Greg,

    It seems this is product rather than service. Any sense how this tracks to local service businesses rather than selecting between products at an online / offline retailer?

    Will

  2. Greg Sterling Says:

    Yes, it’s products. Will amend post

  3. Stream o’ consciousness… | Mike Orren Says:

    [...] Putting the Reviews Debate to Rest [...]

  4. Steve G Says:

    “…yes they’re challenging from an advertiser POV (though most SMBs have a positive view of reviews)”

    Personally, to me it seems like negative reviews are on the rise. It will be interesting to see how that view evolves and the subsequent actions from the SMBs. Especially, with how this pending lawsuit unfolds.

    “Yelp user faces lawsuit over negative review”

    http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-10133466-93.html?tag=mncol;title

  5. MiriamEllis Says:

    Nice stats, Greg! So, we can safely say, reviews are a big deal, important and not going anywhere.

    Happy New Year, Greg!
    Miriam

  6. Greg Sterling Says:

    Thanks Miriam; you too.

  7. links for 2009-01-08 | bg Theory, LLC Says:

    [...] Putting the Reviews Debate to Rest « Screenwerk (tags: local+marketing,) [...]

  8. Editor’s Picks: January 5-9, 2009 | Search Marketing Standard Says:

    [...] has released yet another study on the important of user-generated reviews. Greg Sterling has a nice summary of the findings. By the way, for those of you who are wondering, user-generated content (UGC) is not limited to [...]

  9. Editor’s Picks: January 5-9, 2009 « Search Marketing Standard Says:

    [...] has released yet another study on the important of user-generated reviews. Greg Sterling has a nice summary of the findings. By the way, for those of you who are wondering, user-generated content (UGC) is not limited to [...]

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