We know from multiple studies that consumers are turning to one another more and more for input and recommendations on purchases they’re considering, but we have only been able to hypothesize on the increased demand for and effect of this content in the current economy. Research we’re releasing today with JupiterResearch and Rich Relevance clearly proves that peer-generated content, including ratings and reviews, is still highly valued by all consumers but is much more impactful to shoppers with tighter pocketbooks and more reluctant to spend.

The study finds that consumers are planning to spend less this year. Accordingly, we know that retailers are feeling the consumer’s pain and don’t have budgets to purchase and utilize all of the tools they would like, so they must choose right the first time. The study results confirm what many retailers have already discovered, Ratings & Reviews have been and continue to be consumers’ most used and most trusted peer-generated content tool outside of the standard site information provided by retailers and manufacturers.

Key findings from the study:

  • 48% of consumers plan to spend less, primarily in the automotive sector (50%), travel (46%), and CE (43%).
  • This group plans to do more due diligence, looking for more information in more areas than the other groups (42% will visit 3 sites or more)
  • Many of those reluctant to spend can still be positively influenced – 61% report that their confidence can be increased via online shopping resources
  • 77% cite reviews as being useful in making a recent purchase
  • Ratings & Reviews are the top ranked Content Discovery Tool for driving consumer trust and loyalty
    800 consumers were surveyed on their changing propensity to spend this year and on what tools they plan to use to help them feel more confident about their buying decisions.

The results showed that many consumers are planning to spend less (49%), more consumers are now going online to research their online AND offline purchases, and that very few of them have made up their mind on price (33%), brand (23%), and store/retailer (16%) associated with their purchase. 61% of those who said they were more reluctant to spend said their confidence could be increased if presented with the right information online.

This information should be empowering to retailers and manufacturers.
They have a clear opportunity to influence and win new customers, even in this challenging economy. The reality is that consumers know the data they need exists online, and they will find the content whether on your site or somewhere else. Check out how Amazon’s heavy adoption of social commerce content and tools has helped them gain market share during the past couple quarters.

Customer Ratings & Reviews Are Top Ranked Content Tool
77% of all those surveyed cite reviews as being useful in making a recent purchase, making it the most used peer-generated content (ranking even higher than the actual Manufacturers website). 81% of this of those who said they plan to reduce their spend said they used ratings and reviews to make past purchases and that they are the top ranked tool that would make this group more confident when considering a purchase. 

As JupiterResearch states in the study, “Retailers must consider user generated content as a base line component of their overall offering and use it not only to enhance product descriptions, but to augment search and navigation experiences, enliven marketing messages and improve organic search results. In fact, some forward thinking retailers are beginning to incorporate the content consumers write about products in the original product descriptions to make them more accessible or consumer-focused. Furthermore, multichannel retailers can use this valued content in their stores, catalogs and other channels to bring the voice of the customer to all aspects of their customer interactions.”

Learn more at upcoming Bazaarvoice events
Patti Freeman-Evans, vice president and research director at Forrester Research, will join Bazaarvoice and richrelevance in a series of retailer events to share consumer intelligence and online marketing strategies based on this research. For more information or to register for the New York event on March 3, 2009 or the San Francisco event on March 26, 2009, visit https://www.bmmreg.com/Engaged/.

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