Impact of Reviews on Buying Behavior

PowerReview_SocialShopping_Webinar Organizations opening their web site to customer ratings and reviews is a defining moment, a big decision, and still fairly rare.

Even more rare on the Italian Web, where it considered is a frightening thing, a taboo.

The risk of disagreement is normally considered too high.

That same year, 2008, marked the year Rubbermaid started allowing consumer product reviews on their site, and not all reviewers post laudatory five-star raves#.

The organization believes that when negative reviews are not edited out of a site, they validate an honest product experience.

In fact, you might have gone ahead and purchased an item, most commonly a book (a most subjective choice) at Amazon, even after seeing some negative reviews.

When people did not search for customer reviews before buying from a specific business, they were quite sorry aftwerward.

Stories like that one, and our own experience, teach us to go to people we know and trust.

Because even when we don't agree with them, we can generally filter their comments based upon past interactions. As I wrote in last fall's post, the answer is to rely once again on individuals vs. institutions.

Trust resides with the author


Not the channel. A recent Cone Survey* finds both that 4 out of 5 consumers reverse purchase decisions based on negative online reviews, and that consumers say a trustworthy source is less about the channel and more about the author.

The year-over-year increase in online verification may be attributed to near-universal access to the Internet and the pervasiveness of the smartphone.

A separate study conducted by e-tailing Group in collaboration with PowerReviews** finds that one-third of people have used their mobile phones four or more times to research pricing, promotions, store information, and product reviews prior to visiting a physical store.

The notion of rewards becomes apparent in these situations, with price dominating the top answers. Customers on the hunt for deals look to access promotional coupons for immediate redemption or price shopping from an array of competitors and check out product ratings and reviews.

Impact of reviews on buying behavior

This second study also finds that other customers are perceived as being more unbiased than both retailers and manufacturers. Third party, aggregation sites are favored. The volume of reviews may also contribute to credibility, as does the efficiency of perusing those reviews.

Which is why Amazon is still the top go-to site for product reviews and price checking — here they far outpace both retail websites at 45% and search engines at 41%.

Another insight from the e-tailing/PowerReviews survey is that product reviews were ranked the most critical user-generated content for researching on a retailer’s site with Q/A following closely behind.


Liking a product, a relative newcomer to retail sites, has already surpassed both product likes and community forums. This emanates from its ease of use and one’s ability to connect with others, with only minimal commitment.

Rating a product purchased sees the greatest participation among social activities (70%) though liking and sharing exceed 40% penetration. The research team asks: Can “liking” achieve the same status as product ratings have today?

It might, as is the case with more common kinds of purchases that do not require a substantial investment. However, if we're having the problem about fake (or spam) reviews, imagine how unreliable likes could be, given how easy and low impact it is to just hit the button.

What do you think?


[hat tip Greg Sterling]

* Survey conducted June 27-29, 2011 by ORC International among a representative U.S. sample of 1,054 adults comprising 505 men and 549 women 18 years of age and older.

** Joint e-tailing group/PowerReviews Social Shopping Survey of over 1,000 consumers who have purchased online, April 2011.

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