Online reviews - key shopping tool during pre-purchase research

Data Highlights

  • More than four in five (85%) shoppers read online reviews when researching what to buy
  • Both men (86%) and women (85%) read online reviews in the pre-purchase stage
  • Reading online reviews during research is common among Millennials (81%), Boomers (87%) and Seniors (86%)

Shoppers are most likely to read reviews in the pre-purchase stage when they are researching products and trying to make a purchase decision.More than four in five (85%) shoppers read online reviews during online research as they decide what to buy.

The shopper path-to-purchase can be broken down into three broad stages –
1. Discovery,
2. Influence, and
3. Conversion.

In the first stage of Discovery, shoppers are eager to collect information on what brands and products are available in the market – both online and in stores. Research at this stage is cursory and might lightly involve reading online reviews.

The second stage of Influence is where consumers conduct in-depth research into brands and products so that they can narrow down their choices and come to a final conclusion. Shoppers are heavily invested in reading reviews at this stage as they collect information on product usage experience from other customers to make an informed purchase decision.

In the final stage of Conversion, once they are decided on what to buy shoppers research into how to go about buying the product. Reviews are again lightly involved in the stage as consumers decide if they should buy online or offline, search for coupons, and decide on alternative payment methods if any.

There is very little difference in when shoppers read reviews across gender and age groups. Both men (86%) and women (85%) read online reviews in the pre-purchase stage. Reading online reviews during research is also common among Millennials (81%), Boomers (87%) and Seniors (86%).

With shoppers turning to online reviews to shape their final purchase decision, it has become increasingly important for brands to monitor how reviews are displayed on various retailer sites. Brands need to ensure that the reviews are authentic and cover a broad range of opinions as well as highlight product usage scenarios for shoppers conducting in-depth research to make a purchase decision.

*for additional details on sources and follow up information see our full report – The State Of Online Reviews Among U.S. Shoppers