Majority Of Online Shoppers Check At Least Four Reviews Before Buying

About 68% of online shoppers read at least four reviews before making a purchase, according to data from joint research by PowerReviews and the e-tailing group. The companies surveyed 1,200 consumers who shopped online at least four times per year and spent at least $500 in aggregate--finding that almost a quarter of the respondents checked at least eight reviews or more before deciding to buy.

Some 22% of respondents said that they "always" read reviews before making a purchase, while the majority (43%) said they checked ratings and reviews "most of the time." In contrast, just 2% of the online shoppers surveyed said that they "never" read reviews in advance.

"Consumer-generated media such as those found on ratings and review sites are becoming more influential in the purchase-decision process," said Jeffrey Grau, senior analyst at eMarketer. Grau and other eMarketer analysts crunched the numbers from the PowerReviews/e-tailing group study, as well as Forrester Research and data from Avenue A|Razorfish to come up with a quick, but comprehensive look at the influence that user-generated content like reviews has had on online shopping behavior.

For example, 64% of consumers surveyed by Forrester said that user ratings and reviews were the kinds of features that they wanted to see on Web sites--just slightly edging out those who wanted special offers or coupons (61%), and trumping videos (44%), personalization (37%) and games or quizzes (29%). The data came from Forrester Research's "North American Technographics Customer Experience, Marketing and Consumer Technology Online Survey," for the third-quarter of 2007--which included consumer electronics, travel and banking sites--key drivers of e-commerce in the U.S.

Meanwhile, a recent Avenue A|Razorfish study found that 55% of online shoppers chose user reviews most frequently when conducting product research--more than double the 22% that used comparison charts or expert reviews (21%).

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