76% of respondents in a new survey conducted by price comparison and customer review site Ciao
say that have changed purchase decisions after reading online reviews of the product they were looking to buy. The survey, which polled 1,223 people, also found that shop assistants were deemed as having the least influence on purchases, with only 2% of respondents citing them as having an impact on what products they selected.
Surprisingly, even advice from friends was considered less influential than online reviews, with 34% of people choosing reviews by people who owned the product over recommendations from friends (19%) when purchasing goods.
Brand names still remain an important factor in buying products, however, especially in the areas of beauty and electrical goods. 80% of women will only purchase branded beauty products and 83% of the total respondents cited the strength of the brand as a guide when deciding to purchase electronic products such as DVD players and satellite navigation devices.
And, whilst 61% say they are choosing to purchase CDs, DVDs and books online rather than offline, 67% of users still mainly purchase their clothes in fashion stores compared to 22% using online shops.
"People are becoming savvier than ever when it comes to purchasing a product," says Tom Hyde, Ciao UK's ecommerce team leader. "The fact people are changing their purchase decisions because of what they read in reviews is testament to their success. Brands now more than ever need to be aware of what customers are saying about them online, and take advantage of online communities to interact and engage directly with consumers to address any issues or concerns and secure better reviews in future."