The Pew Internet Project released their Online Product Research report this week. The report is brimming with fantastic stats on ecommerce and user-generated content (UGC) online. If you have time, it’s worth the read.

Here are a few of the stats that really stood out.

52% of Americans have bought products such as books, music, toys or clothing online as of May 2010. [Tweet this]

This number is up from 32% in May 2000. Think about that: the majority of American adults have now engaged in ecommerce. With new platforms like mobile, this number can only grow with time.

78% of American internet users conduct product research online at least occasionally. [Tweet this]

In fact, on a typical day, about one in every five American adults (21%) searches for product information online. This number is up from 15% in 2007, and only 9% in 2004. This is another area where mobile will have a huge impact – Glen Senk, CEO of URBN (the umbrella company behind clients Urban Outfitters and Free People), predicts that mobile online research while in-store shopping will soon become the norm in retail.

Some demographics affect online product research, others may not.

According to the study, men and women conduct online product research at similar rates. As other studies have shown, however, they’re likely to seek products or brands online for different reasons, especially on social media.

Income may have more of an effect on online product research. The study found that internet users in higher income brackets do more online research than those in lower income brackets. A Unity Marketing/ Google study had similar findings in 2008, reporting in Ad Age that 91% of millionaires always or often read reviews before buying luxury goods.

32% of internet using Americans have posted comments or reviews online about the things they buy. [Tweet this]

In other words, about one in five (24%) of all American adults have commented on or reviewed a purchase online. It’s amazing to see how social the internet has become since Bazaarvoice was founded in 2005. Back then, only a handful of notable ecommerce sites offered customer reviews on products. Today, over half of retailers use customer ratings and reviews – reported 60% in 2009.

On the consumer side, social networks like Facebook and Twitter have made personal publishing online the norm. One study found that nearly half of Americans age 12 and older have a profile on at least one social networking site. Pew reports that 86% of Americans 18-29 use social networks, and the number is growing for Americans 30-49 (61%),  50-64 (47%), and 65+ (26%). As social media warms users to the idea of contributing ideas and opinions online, the percentage of Americans who review products online will likely increase as well.

Researching online before buying is becoming the norm for most American consumers. Is your business giving them the information they need to buy confidently?

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