A new study of U.S. consumers from Cone LLC called the 2010 Cone Online Influence Trend Tracker reveals some interesting statistics about consumers’ dependence on word-of-mouth marketing and recommendations. As you might expect from your own purchasing behaviors, four out of five consumers go online to verify product recommendations friends, colleagues, family, and acquaintances give them offline.
The Cone report found that 81% of survey respondents said they go online to verify product recommendations. The breakdown of what they do when the go online is as follows:
- Researching product/service information = 61%
- Reading user reviews = 55%
- Searching ratings websites = 43%
The Internet gives people more access to information than ever, and having that kind of access at their fingertips has changed the way people make purchase decisions. The Cone research also found that 77% of respondents claim to be more likely to purchase a product that has been recommended to them if they can find additional recommendations online.
Perhaps even more interesting is the fact that the Internet has become a source for product research and recommendation verification not just for high-ticket items but also for lower priced items. However, as you might expect, the research also found that people are more likely to search for additional recommendations for products they plan to own for a long time.
Following are some more specific results related to the types of products consumers seek additional information and recommendations about online:
- Low cost: 72% of Americans would go online to do additional research about recommended movies or restaurants
- Moderate cost: 85% would go online to do additional research about recommended computer equipment
- High cost: 82% would go online to do additional research about a recommended car
The part of this study that marketers and brand managers need to be aware of is the fact that managing online brand reputation is absolutely critical to business in the 21st century. Furthermore, consumer product research is no longer limited to comparing products and learning about features and pricing. Today, consumer product research also encompasses reading opinions from people around the world, which can occur very late in the purchase decision-making process. Marketers need to make sure the right kind of information is available online to help consumers make final purchase decisions, and marketers need to make sure that information is easy to find amid the cluttered Internet landscape. As the Cone research shows, consumers are looking.