Online reviews are playing a larger role than ever in the buying habits of UK consumers, with 77% saying they would be persuaded to make a purchase after reading a positive review, according to a new Censuswide survey of 1,000 consumers commissioned by sales promotions experts Opia.
Conversely, 61% of shoppers said they would consider pulling out of a purchase if the reviews were not in favour.
As online reviews grow in legitimacy for consumers, more people are choosing to engage directly with the process – more than half (52%) have followed up their purchase by posting a review online. The most popular reason for doing so is to share a great experience with a brand, retailer or service provider (61%), highlighting the importance of good customer service in-store and during the redemption process for a cash-back or other sales promotion.
Despite this growing trends, the majority of shoppers have not been approached to leave a review by brands and retailers, with just 13% offered loyalty points and even fewer (9%) offered a financial incentive to do so.
Among the 48% of consumers who said they have never left a review online, nearly half (46%) claimed that not having felt strongly enough about a product was their reason for not doing so. However, the same consumers said they would be willing to make their opinions public if they were rewarded with loyalty points or another financial incentive (70%) or if posting a review were part of a special promotion or built into the redemption process (66%) – suggesting that retailers are missing out on an increasingly important factor in marketing.
"Modern consumers aren't content with just telling their friends about a product, they're making their opinions known to the world through online reviews," said Opia sales director Steve Gales. "The survey shows that people are sticking by these reviews – 73% said they feel no regret over posting a negative review in the past – all the more reason to ensure that customer experience and outcome lives up to promotional hype."
The Censuswide survey shows that online reviews are making the largest impact on the service industry (hotels, restaurants and travel companies), with 51% of online reviewers having posted about their experience with one or more of these companies online. Household goods (35%), retail sites (34%), electronics (34%) and books and magazines (29% including downloads) also attracted a significant share of online reviews.