Over two thirds of online researchers rate product ratings and reviews the most helpful feature when researching products to buy online or on the high street, while 97% are willing to trust online reviews, new consumer shopping habits study reveals

UK consumers find online product ratings and reviews the most helpful feature when deciding to make a purchase, a new study from Jupiter Research and social commerce technology company Bazaarvoice has found.

Over two thirds of online users surveyed – 70% - said they found product ratings and reviews the most helpful feature when researching online to purchase from either an e-tailer or high street shop. Product comparison tools, images and themed product categories such as top rated or most popular pooled 57%, 51% and 19% respectively. Respondents were asked to select their top three most helpful sources from ten categories.

65% of online users research products online before buying online, and 56% research products on the web and then purchase on the high street.

Jupiter Research and Bazaarvoice conducted the online survey to gain insights into user generated content and how it influences consumers’ shopping habits.

Trust in online reviews was found to be at its greatest when reviewers told both sides of the story. 56% agreed with this when the pros and cons of specific product attributes were included. Almost half (49%) trusted reviews the most when writers left positive and negative comments about a product. Those questioned chose three of eight features that helped them to trust online reviews.

Overall, 97% of online researchers are willing to trust online reviews.

“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. 2008 will signal a big change for online retailers in the UK as they listen to what consumers want and allow them to influence each others’ purchase decisions.”

The study also revealed that online customer reviews are five times more influential than TV adverts to 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, as compared to other resources, such as friends’ recommendations or ads. For example, only 11% of online users 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. Again, those surveyed were asked to select up to three sources.

Jupiter Research and Bazaarvoice’s survey of 1,000 online shoppers was carried out from 12-19 December 2007.

About Bazaarvoice
Bazaarvoice (www.bazaarvoice.co.uk) offers outsourced technology, hosting services, analytics and expertise to help brands enhance the online shopping experience with social commerce applications that drive sales. Launched by web analytics pioneer and Coremetrics founder Brett Hurt in the US in 2005, Bazaarvoice’s stable of over 160 clients include Hewlett Packard, Dell, Early Learning Centre, Timberland and figleaves.com. Bazaarvoice Ratings and Reviews and Ask & Answer™ products help brands to maximize the impact of user-generated review content through customisation, deep integration, community management, advanced analytics, search engine optimisation and syndication across the Web. Bazaarvoice’s services empower consumers to share honest opinions and influence each other to make more informed and rewarding purchase decisions. Bazaarvoice was named Marketing Innovation of the Year in the 2006 US ClickZ Marketing Excellence Awards was included in the ‘Red Herring 100 North America.’ The company was named one of the ‘Red Herring 100 Global’ in 2007.

For further information please contact:
Claire Armitt
flannel communications
020 7754 5507

Published on: 12:00AM on 5th February 2008