Many consumers find ratings and reviews helpful when doing product research online. Our Technographics survey shows that about half of US online men and 42% of female Internet users are using ratings and reviews at least monthly. Less than half of them are posting ratings and reviews regularly.
But how do consumers value these ratings and reviews, and what do they do about not knowing who's behind the ratings? To get a better understanding of this, we recently asked the community members in Forrester’s Digital Consumers Community the following question:
'Do you read customer reviews before you buy a product? If so, how important are others’ reviews when making your decision to buy a product? Does your reliance on customer reviews vary for different products?'
While most are checking consumer reviews, the comments reveal that they are not heavily influenced by peer reviews. People tend to seek out reviews when they are about to purchase a big ticket item and they are reading the reviews to make themselves feel more comfortable with spending that money – like they have done their homework – but in the end, it’s their own judgment they rely on.
Some key quotes:
“I always see what others have to say regarding the products, some are helpful and some are not”
What a week! The high level of discussion around the Online Retailer Expo & Conference 2010 should dispell any doubts about Australia's near-term future: Online and multichannel retail have entered a period of rapid expansion. That was the theme of my colleague Patti Freeman Evans' conference keynote. It was a theme of both of my sessions at the event. It will be a theme of research that we expect to release shortly. And it was a theme reinforced by countless private conversations we had in Sydney and Melbourne last week: Expect continued growth and increasing competition, from home and abroad, and from both traditional retailers and new entrants, including some firms you certainly weren't expecting. Indeed, there are exciting times ahead.
So far, so good. But how will we get there? As competition increases, how will online and multichannel retailers attract and retain the most profitable customers and increase their lifetime value? Marketing leaders must answer this question, and they must answer it with more sophistication than is common in Australian online retail today.
A common use would be to measure and compare the ROI on a range of acquisition tactics, such as search advertising and banner advertising. So far, so good — if acquisition is the start and finish of marketing.
Smartphones have changed consumer' shopping behavior significantly. Our Technographics data shows that almost one-third of consumers are using their phones to locate a store nearby to find a specific product, and once they’re in the store, they’re using their phones to look up product information (21%) and to compare prices (14%). The retail industry should cater to this need and develop a mobile presence that guides consumers in their decision-making process and makes the information consumers seek easily accessible to seamlessly move them to the cashier.
Retailers can only benefit at this point because the “hard” part is already done: The consumer already wants the product. But without delivering on this last step toward the purchase decision, retailers aren't capitalizing on their previous marketing efforts that got the consumer interested in their product or their store in the first place-- it’s like running a race and stopping 5 feet before the finish line.
Rather than relying on a third-party app that could easily get the consumer walking next door for the lower price he just found, retailers should develop a mobile Website (and if relevant for their target audience, a mobile app) that will support and enhance consumers’ in-store experience when they’re looking up information and also build up loyalty and improve the cross-channel shopping experience.