Study: Women Look To Online Peers For Product Reviews

Women are connecting like never before with online communities to do their shopping research and share information. That's according to the 2009 Women and Social Media Study from iVillage, BlogHer and Compass Partners, which was released Wednesday.

"This study confirms that women, with such hectic daily lives, want to break through the marketing clutter and get firsthand recommendations about consumer products from their peers," said Jodi Kahn, executive vice president, iVillage Networks, in a statement.

The research gathers insights on the ways women in the U.S. use social media tools, such as message boards, blogs and social networking sites, in their everyday lives. The habits and attitudes of 42 million women who participate in any social media activity weekly or more often were measured.

According to the study, 64% of the online women polled are posting product recommendations to message boards and articles online. An even higher percentage (79%) of women in the iVillage Community are doing so. Those postings are influential, as 77% of women polled say these community recommendations impact their purchase decisions. Within the iVillage Community, even more women are impacted by online recommendations (87%).



The study also found that 62% of those surveyed are comparing prices online more often, and 48% are spending more time online researching purchases. Specifically, "Millenials" (women ages 18-26) and "Generation X" (women ages 27-43) are the largest segments of social media users, representing a powerful audience of moms and other women with major purchasing power.

Message boards and forums are women's resources for "finding out about new products" (47%) and "giving me ideas about how to manage my household" (40%). Message boards and forums are also used to "get information" (68%), "share opinions" (70%), "seek advice, recommendations" (49%), and "provide advice, recommendations" (49%). Also, women who post to message boards enjoy influencing their communities. Eighty percent of those who post to message boards report investing time searching for new products online, and 53% agree they are on the leading edge of new trends. Among those surveyed, topics that rank high include parenting (70%), pregnancy/ baby (71%) and health/wellness (71%) as key message board topics.

The study, conducted in March 2009, compared two cells. The first was a general population sample consisting of 2,821 U.S. women ages 18-77 years, weighted by key age breaks to be representative, of which 1,505 qualified as "active" social media participants who participated weekly or more often. The second was an iVillage sample, consisting of iVillage Web site intercept sample of 788 respondents.

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