According to a just released study from Weber Shandwick with KRC Research, 65% of potential consumer electronics purchasers are inspired by a consumer review to select a brand that had not been part of their original consideration. And, the average buyer consults 11 consumer reviews on the path to purchase. Bradford Williams, president of Weber Shandwick’s North American Technology Practice, observes that "... the study sheds new light on... shoppers use of user reviews... (and) traditional editorial reviews in the purchase process... consumer reviewers are... the most powerful force... savvy marketers listen to, manage and... harness their considerable might... “ Williams noted that while consumer electronics buyers pay more attention to other consumers’ reviews than to editorial reviews, by a margin of more than three to one, a majority are concerned about the authenticity of consumer reviews (80%), leading them to conduct considerable analysis before making their decision. Key findings from the report: Buyers invest deliberate effort into making a well-informed decision, conducting multiple activities to gather opinions, reading an average of 11 consumer reviews, evaluating review authenticity and demonstrating tolerance for negative reviews. 88% of consumers say they are somewhat or very knowledgeable about consumer electronics, yet still consult reviews, consumer and/or professional, when looking to make a purchase. Consumers pay more attention to consumer reviews (77%) than professional critic reviews (23%). The gap between consumer and professional reviews closes noticeably for more advanced technologies like tablets and computers. In consumer reviews, the most helpful ones are those that seem fair and reasonable, are well-written, and contain statistics, specifications and technical data. Surprisingly, named (vs. anonymous) reviews are not as important as these other elements in consumers’ minds. Shoppers trust consumer reviews on Amazon.com (84%) and BestBuy.com (75%) the most, topping Consumer Reports (72%). Consumers show no apparent discomfort in getting their research from a seller of the products they’re considering. How Consumer Electronics Buyers Judge Consumer Reviews (% of Respondents Indicating Review Impactful) Important Review Consideration % of Respondents Fair and reasonable 32% Well written 27 Contains statistics, specs, tech data 25 Reviewer named (not anonymous) 23 Subject matter expertise 23 Number of people finding the review helpful 23 Reputation of reviewer 22 Number of other reviews reviewer has written 18 Comments posted on retailer web page 16 Comments by editorial about product 14 Source: Webber Shandwick, January 2013 The report offers several rules of engagement for consumer electronics marketers: Recognize that consumers visit shopping sites for reviews and information at various points in their buying journey, not just to check a price or to click and buy To help address skepticism about the authenticity of reviews, adopt and publicly announce a policy restricting employees from commenting or contributing to customer reviews Design product marketing pages using the format of a reviews site, not marketing collateral An online community manager should be encouraging customers to review products, disseminating positive customer and professional reviews through social channels, and working in tandem with customer service to respond to customer feedback or issues quickly Marketers should identify reviews with the potential to have the most impact and post them to their own product websites, online forums and social network sites For more information about the study and to access the executive summary and infographic, please go here.