New Study Finds that Economic Recession Gives Online Marketers a Unique Opportunity to Influence Purchase Decisions
As consumers spend less and research more, they increasingly rely on online ratings, reviews and recommendations to inspire and confirm online and offline product choices
Austin, Texas and San Francisco, Calif. – February 23, 2009 – Nearly half of all online shoppers (48%) plan to spend less this year, but a majority of those reluctant to make certain purchases (61%) can be positively influenced by online shopping resources, according to a new study based on a survey of over 800 consumers nationwide. The study shows that consumers are going online earlier when making purchase decisions on products and services and are finding significant value in online content tools that connect them to the opinions and behaviors of other shoppers. These tools are particularly relevant to shoppers who are cutting back, as those affected by economic conditions seek more validation for their purchase decisions.
The study found that online shoppers will be more reluctant to make purchases in the next 12 months primarily in the automotive sector (50%), travel (46%), and consumer electronics (43%). Consumers looking to reduce their spend are particularly diligent about shopping around – 42% visited 3 or more sites to research their last purchase – and nearly all consumers are spending more time online prior to purchase. In their 2008 Retail Consumer survey, JupiterResearch found that only 33% of online shoppers had made up their minds about the price they were willing to pay for their purchase in advance of going online to research. Even fewer began their research having made up their minds on which item or title to choose (31%); which brand to buy (23%); which store they would use (16%); or when to make their purchase (13%).
This shift in behavior provides retailers with an opportunity to engage shoppers through content that connects them to products and builds their confidence in these more carefully researched purchases. Following search, and manufacturer and store sites that connect consumers with products and services, shoppers who research their purchases online look to content sources that help inspire, discover, and confirm their choices, including user ratings and reviews (77%), and recommendations based on other consumers’ purchasing or browsing behavior (66% and 65%, respectively). The study also found that these content sources offer a good opportunity for developing long-term relationships by addressing consumer needs and concerns.
“Shoppers trust and use the opinions of others in making choices about products and brands,” said Brett Hurt, founder and CEO of Bazaarvoice. “As consumers head to the web to research online and offline purchases, companies have a tremendous opportunity to provide them with the authentic user-generated content that is proven to build confidence, increase satisfaction, and drive sales. The benefits of user-generated content are amplified in a bad economy, and this is why 9 out of 10 of the Internet Retailer Top 50 who outsource reviews choose Bazaarvoice.”
“Because there’s no one right way to shop, there’s no one right way to market or merchandise products,” said David Selinger, CEO of RichRelevance. “Instead retailers need to focus on making sure that each person gets the most relevant assortment of products to pique their interest, meet their needs and fit their pocketbook. We know that consumers respond to what other shoppers have bought or browsed, especially when recommendations are tailored to be relevant. Personalized recommendations are emerging as must-have functionality for 2009, driven by the value they deliver to the consumer experience.”
The study was commissioned by Bazaarvoice and RichRelevance, and conducted by JupiterResearch, a Forrester Research company. JupiterResearch surveyed over 800 consumers nationwide in November and December 2008.
Upcoming Retail Events
Patti Freeman-Evans, vice president and research director at Forrester Research, will join Bazaarvoice and RichRelevance in a series of retailer events to share consumer intelligence and online marketing strategies based on this research. For more information or to register for the New York event on March 3, 2009 or the San Francisco event on March 26, 2009, please visit www.bmmreg.com/Engaged.
Bazaarvoice offers outsourced technology, services, analytics, and expertise to help companies enhance the online shopping experience with social commerce applications that drive sales. Bazaarvoice Ratings & Reviews™, Ask & Answer™, and Stories™ deliver immediate success by minimizing implementation risk and maximizing the strategic impact of user-generated content through complete customization, deep integration, community management, advanced analytics, search engine optimization, and syndication
Bazaarvoice’s recent awards include the 2008 ClickZ Marketing Excellence Award for Best Social Media Marketing Platform and the Austin Business Journal’s 2007 Tech Innovator Award. Bazaarvoice currently serves over 340 eCommerce leaders including Borders, Dell, Macy’s, Office Depot, Overstock.com, PETCO, P&G, QVC, Sears, and ZipRealty. The company has headquarters in Austin, TX, and offices in London, Paris, and Singapore. For more information, please visit the company’s Web site at www.bazaarvoice.com, read the blog at http://www.bazaarblog.com, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
RichRelevance is the market and technology leader in next-generation personalized recommendations for leading eCommerce sites, including Sears.com. Founded by the former head of Amazon’s Personalization R&D team, the company’s products increase sales by 5-30% by personalizing the shopping experience through targeted merchandising. The RichRelevance recommendations platform outperforms popular collaborative filtering-based solutions through the use of over 20 different recommendation types, cross-placement optimization, and a closed-feedback loop. The SaaS-based offering is easily integrated, and empowers merchandisers through a robust, patent-pending suite of dashboard controls. The company is privately held and headquartered in San Francisco, California.