Social intelligence – our ability to understand and learn from each other and profit from social situations – is a universal trait, but how we use our social intelligence may be culturally variable.  Some new research from Lightspeed Research (online research panel) has found that US consumers trust online reviews from friends and family over professional reviews and consumer reviews.  In the UK, it’s the other way around, Brits prefer to trust professional reviews and consumer reviews over friends and family.

What they both appear to agree on though, is that

  • a) online reviews and online reviewing have become mainstream activities and are an important component of online research (see stats below)
  • b) 3 negative reviews are enough to put the majority of people off purchasing (obviously the review content and volume will influence this – and note that negative reviews may increase trustworthiness of the review page)
  • c) reviews on company websites are to be distrusted

Okay, so it’s survey research and so to be taken with a block of salt, but it’s interesting nonetheless.  Overall the results show that the “review economy” is alive and thriving in both the US and UK. In the US 62% of people read online reviews, 61% in the UK.  And 47% of US consumers post online reviews, compared to 49% of UK consumers.  Interestingly, UK consumers are more keen on price comparison than reviews, but in the US it’s the other way round.

Here’s a selection of review stats from the two Lightspeed surveys conducted in March 2011, with some charts for you to grab.  The US research report is downloadable for free here; the UK research does not seem to be published in full – here’s the UK promo blurb.

Our big takeout is that this reinforces the urgent need for many brands and retailers who are still using an outdated ‘passive audience’ model of the consumer, to replace it with a new ’active researcher’ model.  The SoLoMo consumer is a smart consumer – and you’ll need smart marketing to win their hearts, minds and wallets.

  • US: 62% of people read online reviews for products and service, and 49% of people compare prices online
  • UK: 61% of people read online reviews for products and service, and 75% of people compare prices online
  • US: 47% of people post online reviews
  • UK: 49% of people post online reviews
  • US: 62% of people trust reviews from friends, family and colleagues, 56% trust review from other consumers and 50% trust reviews from professional reviewers
  • UK: 64% trust review from other consumers and 58% trust reviews from professional reviewers, 51% of people trust reviews from friends, family and colleagues
  • US: 28% trust reviews on company websites
  • UK: 17% trust reviews on company websites
  • US: 62% of people will change their minds about a purchase after reading 3 negative reviews
  • UK: 67% of people will have changed their minds about buying a product after reading 3 negative reviews

 

  • US: 85% of the reviews last posted by consumers were positive
  • US: 73% of people would be more likely to post a review if incentivised to do so
  • US: 79% of people compare prices online prior to purchase (personal tech), 61% read online reviews – 10% ask their social network, and 40% ask friends/family/colleagues
  • US: 64% of people use search engines to find online reviews, 7% look for reviews on social networking sites
  • US: 73% of people rate positive reviews for product in consumer reports important, 18% rate positive reviews among social network friends important