If you're like me, you've probably checked your phone more than a few times to research a purchase while standing in a store aisle. Perfectly normal, right?
But you've probably also asked yourself, maybe while noticing quizzical looks from other shoppers, "Am I weird for doing this?"
Or maybe you've left a consumer review online-maybe about your new favorite sweater or restaurant-and wondered, "Is anyone ever going to see this?"
Well, according to a new study released by Bazaarvoice, the world's largest network of active shoppers, the answers to these question, respectively, are "no" and "yes."
Gathering data from more than 4,900 brands worldwide, Bazaarvoice was able to see how shoppers are using customer-generated content, like reviews, to decide what to buy online and in stores.
The study confirms yet again that people are reading reviews. It also confirms that reading reviews (yes, right there in the store aisle) is becoming a routine part of deciding what to buy. So how do you stack up to other shoppers when it comes to using consumer reviews?
If you've found yourself pacing the aisle while tapping on your smartphone, digging for a second and third opinion on the purchase you're considering, you're not alone.
According to the Bazaarvoice study, 64% of all purchase in the U.S.-that includes food, clothing, electronics, you name it-are researched online.
And then a ton of that research occurs right in the store, with 82% of shoppers consulting their smartphones about purchases they're about to make. And what are they looking at to help them make smart purchases?
Partly, they're looking at product pages on retail websites or on the websites of manufacturers. The study found that 36% of pageviews on product pages come from smartphones and other mobile devices.
But even more, buyers are looking at consumer reviews. Thirty-nine percent of in-store shoppers read online reviews from their phones.
Verdict: If you use online consumer reviews to make purchasing decisions while you're at the store, you're pretty mainstream.
Yes, "goggling it" can seem so last decade when it comes to finding stuff online nowadays-what with all the Instagrams and Snapchats around-but the numbers show that the search engines are still the first stop for shoppers looking for product info.
When asked what they do first when researching a purchase, 56% of shoppers said they turn to search engines like Google and Bing.
Verdict: If you've moved on from Google when it comes to your product research, count yourself among the early-adopting few.
That's right-rather than settling for just any purchase without having sufficient intel, some shoppers (32% of them) will just move on and look for better information on other sites and with other retailers.
Sometimes, that information includes discounts and other pricing details. For instance, it's pretty common nowadays to find the item you're interested in on a store shelf and then find the price of that item online. Often, they're cheaper online on the same retailer's website. And then sometimes, you find a cheaper price on another retailer's website. In the study, more than half of consumers said they would ditch their in-store purchase if they found a discount online of 2.5% or more.
Verdict: If the inability to find good information about a product is enough to make you bail on a purchase, you're on the "unusually picky" side. But if you are easily drawn out of the store by a lower online price, you're just mainstream.
Maybe you don't put as much stock in reviews when it comes to buying a new pair of salad tongs, but what about a new TV or smartphone? The study shows that when consumers are researching big technology purchases, the drive to search out reviews jumps up to 55%.
This also happens with health, fitness, and beauty products-58% of in-store buyers depend on reviews for these types of products. Strangely, when people are taking a pill or putting something on their face, they seem to want that extra reassurance that comes from consumer reviews.
Verdict: If you find you rely more on reviews with larger purchases and purchases involving touchy health/body/fitness issues, you're right in the middle of retail road.
Yes, you can buy anything online nowadays, from groceries to cars to vacations. And it can often seem like you must be living in a cave somewhere if you aren't buying stuff online. On this point, however, the study makes it clear that the majority is still done in the real world.
According to the study, 90% of purchases in the U.S. still happen in physical stores. In the U.K. that number goes up to 92%; in India, to 99%.
Verdict: If you don't buy stuff online, you are actually just like almost everybody else.
Yes, this is a real phenomenon. Perhaps mostly subconsciously, consumer reviews give shoppers a warm blanket of trust for a product. Once they have that feeling of trust, they become less tightfisted with their money and end up spending significantly more.
For instance, the study observed people who were influenced by online reviews about the Xbox One gaming console. These same people spent five times more than other shoppers on the Xbox One and other related products, as a result of reading those reviews.
In another example, online car shoppers spent 7 times more after reading positive consumer reviews during the car shopping experience.
Verdict: If this describes you, you're human.
The message here is clear: customers are done just taking companies' word for it. And they're looking to consumer reviews and other online content for a second opinion. This means that consumer reviews are more important to companies than they've ever been before. Yes, companies are listening to your reviews.
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