Pre-Shop Customer Reviews Important to Online Customers

Nielsen Online, studying the holiday mindset of the U.S. online shopper, found that customer reviews are an important research tool for online consumers, with 71 percent agreeing that consumer reviews make them more comfortable that they are buying the right product. 81 percent of online shoppers have read product or retailer reviews by other customers when doing their holiday shopping this year.

Evaluation of this customer feedback found that 63 percent of online shoppers indicated that it was important to have multiple reviews for each product; 14 percent looked for reviews from an established source; and just three percent sought out reviews by people they knew personally.



Ken Cassar, vice president, industry insights, Nielsen Online, said "Consumer reviews are a must-have for online retailers, especially... when shoppers are buying for others in categories they're less familiar with... consumers are looking for outside feedback for guidance."

Important Factors in Evaluating Customer Reviews


% of Respondents

The product has multiple ratings or reviews


The rating or review comes from an established source


The rating or review comes from someone I know




Source: Nielsen Online Holiday Survey, December 2008

 24 percent of online shoppers have spent more than $500 so far this holiday season (12/18), with 22 percent spending between $100-199 online. The 24/7 shopping convenience of the Web was the reason cited most frequently by respondents (78 percent) for shopping online. 

Money Already Spent (12/18) Online this Holiday Season


% of Respondents

Less than $100










More than $500


Source: Nielsen Online Holiday Survey, December 2008

 55 percent of respondents indicated that they logged onto the Web site of a local brick and mortar retailer before visiting the physical store. The primary reason for going online first was comparing prices between retailers, followed by checking if an item was in stock and looking for sales in stores.

 Cassar continued, "... retailers should consider the online contribution to store sales, in addition to online sales, when evaluating how well the season went."

Top 5 Reasons Consumers Visit Retailer Web Site before Visiting Store


% of Respondents

Wanted to compare prices between different retailers whose stores I might shop


Wanted to see if the product I was looking for was in stock


Wanted to find sales in the store


Wanted to come up with holiday gift ideas before I went shopping


I ordered online for in-store pickup


Source: Nielsen Online Holiday Survey, December 2008

 62 percent of respondents said that the most popular reason to shop at a particular online retailer was having made a purchase there in the past. Search engines were the second most popular way to find an online retailer, followed by offline catalogs. These results underscore the importance to consumers of solid, longstanding relationships with retailers they trust, says the report. 

Top 5 Reasons to Shop at a Particular Web Site


% of Respondents

I went to the retailer I have purchased from in the past


I found the retailer through search engines


I received a catalog in the mail from the retailer


I came across an email promotion from the retailer


I subscribe to e-newsletters from retailers


Source: Nielsen Online Holiday Survey, December 2008


For more information, please visit NielsenOnline here.

2 comments about "Pre-Shop Customer Reviews Important to Online Customers ".
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  1. Benjamin Bloom from, January 9, 2009 at 10:30 a.m.

    This must be incredibly disappointing to anyone hoping that integrating the social graph with product content. Only 3% said it was important that a rating or review came from someone they knew?

    Perhaps customers don't yet know how to experience this?

  2. Tyler Lecompte from, January 12, 2009 at 12:43 p.m.

    @ Benjamin Bloom,

    I don't know that anyone working in the Social Media market would find this disappointing... quite the opposite. This just verifies that Word of Mouth continues to be the No.1 driver of consumer purchasing, and that while "traditional" marketing and advertising are still viable ways to market products/services, companies and brands no need to be more attentive to the online "conversations" that are happening. Those consumer conversations can happen via text, email, social networks (facebook, etc.) or even videos.

    Since Online Video consumption increased 34% from 2007 to 2008 in the 18-35 male demographic, I would think that it is still VERY important to include online customer reviews in the consumer experience. Just my 2 cents...thanks

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