Thanksgiving Week 2009 was a record-breaker for Bazaarvoice clients. Collectively, shoppers consumed more than 1.9 billion pieces of user-generated content across hundreds of client sites, up 58% over 2008. And they read much more than just reviews. Use of consumer questions during this time was up 122% over 2008 numbers, and use of consumer answers increased 124%.

While research such as the recent Shop.org/BIGresearch study continue to show that customer reviews are consistently among the most important features on retail sites for consumers, brands that have added community Q&A and shared stories campaigns have seen that this content is increasingly impacting site traffic and sales.

The spike represents a continuing fundamental shift in the way consumers do research and make purchases. UGC usage peaked at 11pm on Thursday night, as users researched Black Friday deals online. And our network saw a 61% increase in UGC served on Cyber Monday than the previous year, serving 28,000 pieces of content per second during peak usage.

Our data matches the findings of a recent comScore study, which found that 28% of shoppers who have started buying holiday gifts were influenced by social media. Of these, 13% were influenced by a customer review, and 9% were influenced by a connection’s shared opinion on Facebook or Twitter.

Social commerce is changing shopping on a deep level, bringing interaction between customers into the purchase path to help shoppers and drive sales. Expect this trend to continue throughout this holiday season and into the new year.

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