A new survey from Deloitte & Touche has provided more evidence of the influence of user-generated reviews on consumers, as well as their growing significance for brands and etailers.

The study focused on US shoppers, and found that of the 62% of respondents that read user reviews, more than 80% had been ‘directly influenced’ by them – i.e. the reviews had either confirmed their initial choice or changed their mind.

Although the percentages were slightly higher for younger shoppers, it found that all age groups were reading and acting on online reviews, and that 69% of respondents said they had shared them with friends, family or colleagues.

Pat Conroy, vice chairman and US consumer products group leader at Deloitte & Touche USA, said:

“In the past, clever marketers and advertisers shaped brands, but now consumers are increasingly empowered, everyone has a voice, and information and opinions are instantly dispersed. Consumer product companies need to determine how best to capitalise on this new landscape. Clearly, there will be consequences for those who don’t.”

As well as manufacturers, retailers are also recognising the importance of user reviews – in our recent Social Commerce Report, 28% of online sellers had already started to display them on their sites, while more than half (52%) said that they were considering doing so.

In addition, Deloitte’s survey found consumers were looking at a wide range of factors before deciding between brands – including many that can be influenced by user reviews. Conroy added:

“Information about products, pricing, ingredients and sourcing, as well as corporate practices around labour, environment, healthcare and other issues is now instantaneously available to potential customers – and, increasingly, consumers are making decisions based on this information.”