Altruism drives the majority of online reviewers in the UK – just as it does in the US, finds new study from social commerce company Bazaarvoice and researchers Keller Fay.

Helping others make good purchase decisions is the main motivation for UK consumers to leave online product reviews, according to new research from Bazaarvoice and research company Keller Fay Group.

94% of 3,786 people surveyed from late July to mid-October said they felt it was somewhat or extremely important to write reviews to help other consumers make good purchase decisions, and 82% said they wanted to help companies make better decisions about the products they sell.

The new research mirrors findings from a similar survey carried out in the US in November 2007. Results showed that, similar to UK consumers, the majority of US consumers who write online reviews are motivated to do so by goodwill and positive sentiment. The US survey of 1,300 consumers revealed that 90% said they felt it was somewhat or extremely important to write reviews in order to help others make better buying decisions and more than 70% said they wanted to help companies improve the products they sell.

Bazaarvoice found that 86% of UK reviewers said they left positive feedback online, a figure that is almost identical to US reviewers (87%). Only 11% said their feedback was split equally between positive and negative, while just 3% of respondents claimed they were negative all or most of the time.

Further findings from the UK study, which questioned people who left reviews on web sites across three major retail categories, revealed that when asked about other key reasons for writing reviews, 89% said it was somewhat or extremely important to share their experiences with others. The top five reasons also included helping companies make product improvements (84%), personal reliance on customer reviews (85%) and rewarding a company for good service (82%). These findings are aligned with the US findings, although the data shows that UK reviewers are about 10% more likely to write reviews to help companies make product improvements.

Relatively few people leave reviews to punish companies that provide bad service levels. Only 23% said they felt leaving feedback for this reason was somewhat or extremely important. 52% of UK reviewers wanted to correct what they saw as unfair reviews compared to 41% of the US reviewers.

“When we look across all of the reviews we serve for our clients, we see that 88% of UK and 81% of US reviews are positive – given 4 or 5 stars. This study provides complimentary details showing that not only are UK reviews generally as positive as US reviews, but that UK reviewers also have altruistic intensions when posting their opinions,” said Sam Decker, Bazaarvoice CMO. “Companies should embrace this as an opportunity to collect authentic feedback from their customers that is intended to help other shoppers make a confident purchase decision while also providing guidance to the company on product value and performance.”

Commenting on the study results, Keller Fay CEO Ed Keller said, “One of the fears some marketers have regarding word of mouth marketing is the potential for negative feedback. This study confirms that consumers engage in word of mouth to help others make smart decisions, and that the overwhelming amount of brand discussion is positive, not negative. This should be encouraging to marketers who wish to tap into this powerful and influential channel.”
When asked whether they expressed opinions about purchases in other ways, word of mouth was the most popular method among the whole survey sample. Almost half – 49% - said they told friends and family about their experiences. 29% said they didn’t express their views in any other way, while the remaining respondents got in touch with the company directly, blogged about their experience or left reviews on third party web sites.

Looking at the online habits of those surveyed, overall, 93% purchased items for delivery to their homes. 63% bought items in online auctions. 28% said they participated in online social networks such as MySpace and LinkedIn.

About Bazaarvoice
Bazaarvoice (www.bazaarvoice.co.uk) is a social commerce technology company. It helps over 290 brands globally including Boots, Halfords, Wickes, Thomas Cook, QVC and Boden to harness and amplify customer online word of mouth.

Bazaarvoice’s products - Ratings & Reviews™, Ask & Answer™ and Stories™ - are social commerce applications that drive sales. They enable customers to review products, ask and answer questions and share stories online; enhancing the online shopping experience and allowing them to make more informed and rewarding purchase decisions. Benefits for the retailer include content ownership, seamless customisation, increased search engine optimisation impact, advanced analytics and syndication across the web. Retailers can also leverage the content generated across on and offline marketing channels.

Founded in 2005, Bazaarvoice has offices in the UK, US, France and Singapore. The company was named in 2007’s Red Herring Global 100. The blog is at www.bazaarblog.com.

About the Keller Fay Group
The Keller Fay Group (www.kellerfay.com) is the first full-service market research company focused exclusively on word of mouth (WOM) marketing, using a full suite of best-in-class research techniques. The company measures WOM trends and campaign effectiveness; tests concepts, ads, and messages to maximize their WOM potential; and offers a complete array of custom research and advisory services related to WOM. The firm was founded by Ed Keller, former CEO of RoperASW and NOP World’s Consumer Sector, and co-author of The Influentials (Free Press, 2003).

For further information please contact:
Claire Armitt
flannel
claire.armitt@no-flannel.com
01273 779449 / 07985 297842

Published on: 12:00AM on 21st November 2008