Study Shows Consumers Read Reviews When Looking for a Local Business

February 28, 2014

Online shopping and the use of product reviews have skyrocketed over the last five years. Trusted reviews play a huge role in helping customers feel comfortable buying from a retailer they can’t physically see. However, the 2013 Local Customer Review Survey by BrightLocal shows that consumers are consulting online reviews now, even more, when looking for local services. A company’s online reputation has become just as important as their “brick and mortar” appearance. Consider some of the survey’s key finding

The Data

The survey involved 14 questions and 2,100 participants throughout North America, with the majority (90 percent) being in the United States. 2013 marked the third year the survey was conducted. The historical data compared to the 2013 numbers showed an increase in consumer reliance on online reviews when selecting a product or service within their local community. Here are two highlights from the research.

  • Choosing a business. Eighty-five percent of respondents say they read online reviews when determining if a local business is a “good” business, up from 76 percent in 2012.
  • Affect of reviews. Seventy-three percent of respondents said positive customer reviews influence their trust of a company, an increase from 58 percent in 2012. Additionally, 65 percent of consumers say they are more likely to use a business with positive online reviews. Even more impressive is that 79 percent say they trust online reviews even more than a personal recommendation.

The Analysis

The data indicates many trends in consumer motivation and behavior. Obviously, consumers are using online reviews more than ever. However, more subtle results are inferred by the data as well.

  • Firstly, reading online reviews is now a solid part of the purchasing cycle. Consumers identify their need, decide what will satisfy that need, then turn to online reviews to determine what business best meets their need.
  • Secondly, review influence is growing. Consumers are now relying on the internet for recommendation via ratings and reviews. The research suggests even more so than from a personal recommendation.

These facts emphasize the need for local businesses to effectively market their reputation online, ensuring that reliable and positive feedback is easily viewed. Online reviews have a tangible impact on purchasing decisions — no one argues that point. As a retailer, especially if you are a small or medium-sized business for whom every sale counts, you need to make sure you are taking an active role in promoting your reputation online

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