Survey Says: Ready For The Social Researcher?

There’s a new breed of online shopper, one who places increased significant emphasis on peer feedback in product reviews when making purchasing decisions.

According to the “Social Shopping Study 2007” recently completed by the E-tailing group and commissioned by PowerReviews, 65% of respondents were identified as “Social Researchers.” These consumers actively seek out and read customer reviews prior to making a purchase decision always or most of the time.

Who are these social researchers and what do they mean to you?

According to the survey of 1,200 consumers who shop online at least four times a year, spending $500 or more annually:

  • 78% of these respondents indicated they spent more than 10 minutes of time in the review reading process
  • 86% of social researchers find customer reviews extremely or very important
  • 76% find “top rated product” lists to be extremely or very important
  • 64% of people in this group research products online more than half the time, no matter where they buy the product (store, Web, catalog, etc.)

The study set out to understand how online shoppers use reviews today to make informed buying decisions. Nearly all respondents indicated that product reviews would be very helpful in shopping for products in a wider variety of online categories outside of electronics, including toys and video games, sporting goods, gifts, and beauty products.

The Social Shopping Study also aimed to explore consumers’ preferences and interests in social navigation–the ability to narrow product selections based on reviews from like-minded people with similar interests. A whopping 82% found reading reviews better than researching a product in-store with a knowledgeable sales associate.

Perhaps most telling about the growing importance of customer reviews in the online shopping decision-making process: 93% of consumers said they are likely to start their shopping process on a Website that offers social navigation.