We all like bragging about our great shopping steals. Thanksgiving is rolling around the corner, and with it, Black Friday. Who isn’t looking for a good bargain? How do you know that the awesome Black Friday deal in your newspaper (or online) is actually a worthwhile deal? Like most other Americans or UK residents, 92% of you are using product reviews when considering a purchase, according to Channel Advisor’s Consumer Shopping Habits Survey. In fact, this holiday season 58% of consumers are likely to purchase their holiday gifts online instead of the typical brick-and-mortar store.

For example, I’m not going to drive out to a chain electronics store at 5AM to wait in line for the Black Friday special TV if it isn’t worth it, so I get on my laptop and search for “tv reviews” at 11pm on Thanksgiving Day (that is, after food, football, and family). Eleven PM is actually the peak traffic time on Thanksgiving Day, as opposed to around 2pm on a typical Thursday. Just look at the Google Search spike below:

In fact, 35% more reviews, 124% more questions, and 122% more answers are being served (displayed) on our client’s websites on Thanksgiving than previous Thursdays.

What about Cyber Monday? When you didn’t get a chance to buy something on the weekend, you shop online on Monday—at work. You don’t even wait for the afternoon with the normal Monday peak traffic time at 2:40PM but get a head start around lunch time at 11:50AM. Don’t worry, we won’t tell your boss, but we see 71% more reviews, 147% more questions, and 97% more answers being served on Cyber Monday than previous Mondays. Interestingly enough, questions and answers surpass reviews as you research your holiday purchases.

Perhaps you can’t find the answer to your question and write your own. Ninety-four percent more questions per month were asked in November and December of 2009 than the previous months.

Those questions may not have been immediately answered last holiday season, but with more manufacturers such as Samsung (client) answering questions, your answer may be in your email inbox within a few hours. The community has become more engaged in answering questions as well. Since May 2010, the total number of answers has overtaken the number of questions that Bazaarvoice clients are getting.

All of this talk about researching products and creating user-generated content shouldn’t come to us as any surprise in the holiday season. In 2009, sales increased 20% and Average Order Value increased 35% on the Black Friday weekend.

The bottom line: Odds are this year, with the improving economic climate, even more consumers are expecting to do some Black Friday shopping with the aid of user-generated content.

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  • Rachel Eng

    That’s a really good question Jonathan. We don’t have a whole lot of that data from last year’s holiday season. However, we are continuing to encourage more of our clients to track number of reviews as a product attribute. As more clients do this and grant us access to this data, we’ll be able to answer your question better. Thanks!

  • Anonymous

    Nice post Rachel. I’d be interested to know if your data shows any improvements in purchase patterns for products with, say, 5 or more reviews during the holiday crunch. For instance, do products with many reviews get purchased at a greater rate than products without reviews during Black Friday and Cyber Monday? How does that rate compare with the other times of the year? Just some ideas about how the number of reviews might affect decision making during a critical buying times. I’m guessing there might be some good data in there with respect to customer urgency, uncertainty, or other social commerce implications.