The Data Digest: When Do Consumers Use Reviews and Ratings?

In July 2010, we posted a Data Digest that shows that almost half of US online males and 42% of online females read consumer ratings and reviews at least monthly. Well, what types of decisions are reviews helping these consumers to make?

Our Technographics® data shows that, as most would expect, more than half of the consumers who check ratings and reviews use them to help make more complex decisions such as a car, TV, or refrigerator. However, these are not the only types of decisions consumers are looking to reviews for — in fact, most check reviews to help with a variety of decisions — from entertainment decisions to making purchases for their jobs.

When we look at this data by generation, it is no surprise that Gen Yers are more likely to use online reviews across most of the decision types that we ask about compared to the overall US population. What is interesting is how dependent they are on online reviews when it comes to entertainment choices (44%) and purchasing ongoing services (41%). And although young consumers lead with using ratings and reviews, it is interesting to see that Seniors that are using ratings and reviews show similar behaviors compated to the total US population for most categories -- apart from the job related one.

Because such a large percentage of Gen Y consumers depend on these reviews, the effects of negative consumer feedback are heightened for brands in the entertainment and service industries. Market Insights Professionals in these industries should absolutely be investing in social listening in order to understand consumer concerns as they arise. This will help their companies respond when necessary, minimizing the snowball effect of negative reviews.

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