January 5, 2009

Customer Generated Content: not a buzzword anymore

In my previous post I referred to the importance of the fact that the Internet has become the nr. 2 information channel. An interesting detail well known to those following the effects of the Social Media / Web 2.0 is that the bulk of the online information published on line is not corporate information but customer generated one. Even more interesting is that this peer-to-peer content is becoming a main influencer of customer behavior. Some research findings:

> 59% of Internet users consider customer reviews to be more reliable than those from experts. Bizrate survey (2007):
> 62% of the US consumers read consumer-generated online reviews and 98% of them find these reviews reliable enough and
> 80% of these consumers say that reading these reviews has affected their buying intentions. Deloitte Touche, USA, 2008
> 85% of consumers will recommend a company with which they have a trusted relationship (Carlson Marketing).

A recent study of Nielsen Online reveals that the percentage of consumers reading customer generated reviews keeps growing: Nielsen announced that 81% of the online holiday shoppers have read product or retailer related reviews during the last holiday season. An amazing 20% increase from the figure above!
Other interesting findings of the study:
> 25% of US consumers spend over $ 500 online during the last holiday season.
> 33% of consumers visiting retailers sites wanted to compare prices between retailers before they visit their shop while 28% of the consumers wanted to see if the product was in stock in the shop
> 62 % of the consumers who bought from a particular web site have purchased from the same shop in the past
Such studies reveal every day new information as to the role of the web as a commercial platform. This information is a real treasure for those interested in optimizing their online presence. Businesses have no excuse any more to ignore the impact of the Internet on the behavior of their customers. The sooner they start looking more carefully to this data the better.