Market analysis firm Cone Inc. has released its 2011 Cone Online Influence Trend Tracker, and survey data suggests the influence of the Internet and online reviews on consumers’ purchase decisions is stronger than ever. Cone found that 89 percent of consumers said they found online sources of product and service reviews to be trustworthy, and fully 80 percent of consumers have changed their minds about a purchase based only on negative information they found online. That last figure is up from 67 percent in 2010. However, good product reviews also have a strong influence: 87 percent of consumers said a favorable review has confirmed their decision to go through with a purchase.
“The increasing impact of online content on buying decisions cannot be ignored,” noted Cone president Bill Fleishman, in a statement. “Today’s marketers, no matter the product or service, must learn how to sway the conversation by connecting with those who have significant influence over their peers and will champion the brand message.”
Cone attributes consumers increasing reliance on online verification of purchasing decisions stems on “near-universal” access to the Internet and consumers rapid adoption of smartphones, which enable many to pull in product reviews and information at points of sale. Some 59 percent of respondents indicated they were more likely to research recommended products online because they can quickly get that information on their mobile phones.
Cone also found that Americans are about 25 percent likely to look for online verification of their intention for high-dollar purchases like cars: Cone found 89 percent would do so in 2011, compared to 72 percent in 2010. Consumers did not seem as interested in verifying their thoughts behind moderate- and low-cost purchases.
Cone also found that articles and blog posts are gaining traction as sources of product information, with 42 percent of consumers looking to articles and blogs for to verify recommendations in 2011, compared to just 28 percent in 2010. However, consumers still turn first to product information (69 percent) and consumer reviews (64 percent) as their preferred sources. Cone attributes the increased use of articles and blogs to verify purchase recommendations to traction and credibility blogs and particular authors have gained over time: it’s not so much the medium, as the trust consumers place in the specific reporters and writers.
Cone’s survey was conducted online from June 27 to 29 with a sample of 1,054 U.S. adults.