Two Studies Affirm Power of Reviews

In case we needed more evidence that consumer reviews are now a critical and highly influential part of the online shopping process, two studies have come along to affirm that proposition once again.

The first is from Cone and based on an online survey of 1,054 US adults. It seeks to measure trust and influence of various information resources and shows, among other things, that consumers rely heavily on reviews to validate information they’ve received from elsewhere. In particular negative reviews can dissuade someone from making a purchase: 80% say that “Negative information I’ve read online has made me change my mind about purchasing a product or service recommended to me.”

The other survey I refer to is from the e-Tailing Group (sponsored by PowerReviews). The data from this survey are fairly extensive and seek to reflect the relative influence of different kinds of content and social information on consumer purchase decisions. Once again reviews from other consumers comes out as the most influential type of content:

While these findings may seem obvious at this point their implications are fairly radical: traditional advertising and brand messaging is going to be almost completely ineffective if the products or services in question are not intrinsically worthy. That means millions and maybe even billions of dollars will be wasted on marketing if consumers don’t agree that the products are deserving.

It argues that companies need to invest in product quality and service rather than marketing. However there are companies like Apple that offer great products and spend millions on branding and advertising.

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18 Responses to “Two Studies Affirm Power of Reviews”

  1. Ramesh says at

    We all know the power of reviews. I wonder what strategies companies might be using to influence reviews

  2. Greg says at

    Review solicitation is obviously a big deal

  3. New Studies on Impact of Reviews | Reviews and Reputation Marketing says at

    […] New Studies on Impact of Reviews September 2, 2011 By Ted Paff Tweet Greg Sterling just wrote a blog: Two Studies Affirm Power of Reviews. […]

  4. Edward says at

    what about the power of blog comments, are those worth something also? I wonder?

  5. Greg Sterling says at

    Blogs do play a role but not explored in this survey. They might fall into the realm of experts, which do carry weight, as in gadget blogs.

  6. Ramesh says at

    In my experience blogs bring a personal touch … almost like personal recommendation in case of mom blogs. 

  7. Greg Sterling says at

    Yes, the mom blogs may be especially influential.

  8. Malcolm Lewis says at

    Here I go again 😉

    We shouldn’t need to plow through endless reviews to validate recommendations – at least not reviews from EVERYONE. We should instead get personalized recommendations (and reviews) based only on the preferences of other users with similar tastes to our own. The people that like (and dislike) the same restaurants you like (and dislike) really LOVE these restaurants. Ditto books, movies and everything else under the sun. Think of it as a trust filter without the social connection. It baffles me that neither Google nor Facebook haven’t delivered these kinds of recommendations systems. Whoever nails this concept will become the new gateway for commercial search.

  9. Malcolm Lewis says at

    Btw, this approach is fraud-proof.

  10. Greg Sterling says at

    Facebook Connect offers that functionality to third parties (although friends aren’t necessarily similar). Bizzy is trying to do this and Alfred in a different way. Google is incrementally rolling out recommendations. So people are — and have been — working on it. Problem is: it’s hard to build a compelling experience and get critical mass. This is why Yelp never did “friend recommendations” until Connect came along.

  11. Gil Rozenblatt says at

    Too bad this study didn’t include the power of reviews written about the actual merchant you’re buying from. Studies by Forrester show that the reviews I speak of have a powerful effect on peoples buying decisions when it comes to th store they choose.

  12. Greg says at

    You’re talking about verified reviews?

  13. Gil Rozenblatt says at

    I’m talking about reviews like those found on Reviews about the service provided by the STORE where you are considering purchasing the product. They too are an invaluable tool used by people when considering where to buy the products they have researched.

  14. Greg Sterling says at

    Sure. Was just trying to determine if you were making a distinction between verified vs. unverified reviews. 

  15. Gil Rozenblatt says at

    Thanks for the response Greg. There was a NY Times article recently about how lots of companies have been springing up offering merchants and restaurants fake reviews for $5 each. Unverified reviews are useless. There are some Cornell researchers working on an algorithm that they claim can distinguish between authentic and fake reviews. I don’t think this can be done. Companies like Amazon have it right. They only allow reviews from people they know made a purchase. So to answer your question, it is verified reviews I speak of as I don’t think anyone should put any weight behind those that aren’t.. Merchants are well aware of the significance of reviews and they game whatever sites they can.

  16. Greg says at

    This is a complex and important topic. Another post to come

  17. Greg says at

    This is a complex and important topic. Another post to come. I’m familiar with the article

  18. Reviews You Can Trust | The Papa Post says at

    […] since there is no item being sold right? Not so it seems. Companies (big and small) understand the power of reviews. Heck, even my fridge delivery guys rushes through the delivery spiel but takes the time to slowly […]

  19. Yam Regev says at

    Interesting stuff, indeed.
    It’s clear that reviews impact on rankings, conversions & buyers behavior is increasing. It seems that the reviews spam is increasing in a faster pace, though..

    I can’t see how an algorithm can enforce a reviews spam (i know that article too), Also i can’t see how any directory (IYP’s, CityGrid, Google Maps, etc..) can stop the reviews spam. Maybe a mega spam, yes but not a tactical, more delicate one.

    Most directories have no interest preventing reviews spam as those reviews are being spread out to other directories & by that everyone get more info & traffic, some are doing completely nothing about preventing reviews spam (Yahoo Local leads those Wild Wild Wild West directories-;_ylt=Am3XQLmXmpIDuuD5Io2QJziHNcIF;_ylv=3?p=Locksmith&csz=Houston%2C+TX).

    Another nice reinforcement to the reviews impact on a biz, you can read in this interesting case study-

  20. Smart Invite: Getting Reviews in Google Places and Yahoo Local | Reviews and Reputation Marketing says at

    […] reviews strategy has always included getting reviews about your business in many places.  Why?  Customer reviews are the single most impactful piece of information that a potential customer uses when deciding to choose your business or your competitor’s […]

  21. 5 Things I learned at CEDIA EXPO 2011 | Reviews and Reputation Marketing says at

    […] The thing about reviews is consumers actually seek them out as a resource. And, according to these 2 studies on the impact of customer reviews, no other single piece of content online has a greater impact on a purchase […]

  22. ilyes says at

    What if you can write your own reviews yourself?
    at google maps, yelp and insider pages
    actually you can, are selling reviews posting service, they even offers the first review for free, you can write your own reviews or use their templates, they will post them back to your listing

  23. Monitoring Your Business Name: Keywords to Keep a Pulse On | says at

    […] you never know when one negative review will hurt you – research shows that reading negative information online may deter someone from purchasing a product or service recommended to them, so it’s important to stay in the know when it comes to your reputation. And, […]

  24. Monitoring Your Business Name: Keywords to Keep a Pulse On | says at

    […] you never know when one negative review will hurt you – research shows that reading negative information online may deter someone from purchasing a product or service recommended to them, so it’s important to stay in the know when it comes to your reputation. And, […]

  25. Maintaining Your Personal Image | Your Resume Writing Service says at

    […] to one’s success, maintaining a positive reputation is essential. Just as one review with a negative tone can destroy a company quickly, the same goes for job seekers. Here are a few tips to being […]

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