How Women Use Online Reviews

Peter Roesler, President - Web Marketing Pros

By Peter Roesler

President, Web Marketing Pros

connected-womanTrust is one of the most important commodities for online retailers. Many studies have shown that online reviews are a good way to build consumers trust in the products they see online and the retailers who sell them. New research from Influence Central analyzed how women respond to customer reviews online and their online shopping. This article will discuss this study on customer reviews and how marketers can use them to make their retail sites better.

Whether it’s empirically true or not, there is a belief that women are more social than men. This study leads credence to that belief by showing that women use reviews from other people heavily when making decisions about what products to buy and which retailers to use.

“With the holiday shopping season in full gear, new research from Influence Central reveals the dramatic impact online reviews now have on consumers,” the company wrote in a press release announcing the study. “Eighty-five percent (85%) of women consumers say they consider these e-commerce reviews extremely/very important when making a purchase, and savvy shoppers use them to ensure quality, to gather more insights when deciding between similar products, and to get the best deal.”

The study is based on data from November 2014. Influence Central surveyed more than 500 women, via an in-depth 20-minute questionnaire. The questions focused on understanding how online product reviews factor into the shopping habits of consumers, how much they trust online reviews, and the ways recommendations from other shoppers factor into their buying purchases.

One takeaway from the study is that online reviews are essentials for brand websites. Private-label brands can do well in the modern market, as was discussed in a previous article on this site. However, private-label brands can benefit greatly from having online reviews on their site. The study found that 88 percent of consumers consider online reviews very influential when purchasing a new product from a brand with which they’re not familiar.

This isn’t just a benefit for lesser known brands. According the data, even when purchasing a new product from a brand they already know, 67 percent of women consumers still consider online reviews very influential.

Despite the value of reviews, it’s counter-productive to try and add fake reviews to boost a products credibility. First, it’s illegal to do and earlier this year, several businesses were penalized by the New York Attorney General for posting fake reviews. Moreover, consumers consider themselves savvy discerners of reviews, with the lion’s share (97%) saying they can tell almost all of the time the credibility of a posted review.

Of the online reviews they read, consumers believe that 62 percent are genuine reviews from real customers. This makes sense because 87 percent of consumers post online reviews either occasionally or often. So consumers know that real people post reviews just like they do, even if some are fraudulent.

89% of consumers distrust most online reviews posted from a stranger who does so anonymously (e.g., someone who does not use their real name). When strangers use their real name and a photo, this distrust drops to only 23%.

According to the study, there are three key factors that determine trust for an online review: how much the person sounds like the reader, the amount of detail in the review, and if the reviewer is noted as a verified purchaser.

For retailers who also products on Amazon, the study noted that reviews take on greater significance on the selling platform. Nine out of ten (90%) of consumers consider online reviews from Amazon to be determinative of the quality of the product. For the 43 percent of consumers who check online reviews for items they’ve purchased before, they do so to see if others have had a similar experience and also to see if there is a better product option.

This study has a lot of useful information for marketers about how women (and consumers in general) use reviews and it’s worth checking out the entire report. For more research on customer reviews, read this article with three ethical ways to gain more reviews.

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