Majority of Consumers Research Products Online Before Purchase

According to a recent study conducted by Pew Research Center, 58% of all American adults now perform online research on the products and services they consider purchasing, representing an increase from 49% in 2004.  Nearly half of those adults (and 24% of all Americans) have posted comments or reviews online about the products they buy.

Just among internet users, 78% of Americans conduct product research online before purchasing, and 32% post product reviews or comments online about their purchases.

This coincides with the rise in popularity of social networks – nearly half (46%) of all Americans now use social networks, up from 5% in 2005.

We all know that consumers rely on peer opinions to help drive purchase decisions – this is not a new phenomenon.  However, with half of all Americans using social networks to share information with friends and colleagues, retailers have struggled to find a way to kindle brand conversations among consumers across these new media.

The fusion of trends highlighted in the Pew study reinforces the mandate for retailers to make interactivity and sharing of product information and reviews as simple as possible.  For example, retailers using Janrain Engage can enable consumers to easily share product reviews with friends on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.

Janrain Engage Social Sharing Retail Website
By leveraging Janrain Engage for social sharing, retailers can translate user-generated product reviews from their corporate website into peer-to-peer interactions on social network feeds.  This improves brand awareness, drives qualified referral traffic back to the corporate site, and informs future purchase decisions.

Another interesting tidbit:  The Pew study found no significant differences among age groups in the likelihood of posting online product reviews.  This is further evidence that, no matter the age demographics of your company’s target market, there is value in adding community features and enabling user-generated content through product reviews, ratings or comments.