More than nine-out-of-ten consumers (94%) check online reviews before buying products and services, research from Feefo has found, proving the increasing dominance of customer feedback in the minds of consumers.
The figure was up 28% on findings in last year’s research by global reviews and customer insights company Feefo, which like this year’s, explored the attitudes of 2,000 UK consumers towards online reviews. Last year 66% of consumers said they turn first to reviews.
The research also revealed that real reviews have replaced friends or family as the most reliable source of information. 84% of consumers say feedback from real customers is the biggest influence on them, whereas only 52% now depend mostly on the recommendations of friends and family.
And although price-comparisons remain vital for 74% of shoppers, 68% regard online reviews as the most crucial information available when they consider a purchase.
“Why should we be surprised that reviews are now so vital to millions of shoppers in the UK?” said Matt West, Chief Revenue Officer. “Able to access genuine, precise feedback on smart review platforms, shoppers know they have instant access to the collective wisdom of thousands of real customers. That’s a far more reliable source of information than anything else.”
The research also found that “sentiment”, reflecting how a customer feels about products or services, is by far the most influential aspect of a review (selected by 68%).
When it comes to leaving reviews, most consumers prefer to post online (59%), with holidays and travel being most popular topics (50%) along with restaurants and dining (49%) and electronics (43%). 52% of shoppers said they are more likely to leave a review for goods and services costing more than £250.
In a pointer to the future, 46% of respondents are interested in triggering access to relevant reviews by taking photos of products, while almost a quarter (23%) say they are likely to watch video reviews.
West added: “If brands want to capitalise on the obvious power of reviews they must establish trust by harnessing real feedback from real customers. Shoppers are increasingly aware of fake reviews and quickly smell a rat when reviews are fake or filtered.
“But brands also need an advanced, agile platform that leverages the best of technologies such as artificial intelligence to make it easy for consumers to find out what they want accurately and quickly. Reviews have huge potential to boost a brand’s reputation for honesty and transparency.”