Consumers read and trust online reviews for local businesses
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from MarketingCharts, a Watershed Publishing publication providing up-to-to-minute data and research to marketers.
More than ever, consumers in the U.S. and Canada are reading online customer reviews to determine whether a local business is a good one, according to results from the latest annual BrightLocal survey examining consumer attitudes to reviews for local businesses. This year, 88 percent of respondents claimed to regularly (39 percent) or occasionally (49 percent) read online reviews to determine the quality of a local business, up from 85 percent last year and 71 percent in 2011. More than seven in 10 also said that positive reviews make them trust a business more.
Meanwhile, asked if they trust online customer reviews as much as personal recommendations, respondents answered as follows:
- Thirty-two percent (up from 25 percent last year) indicated that they do, if there are multiple customer reviews to read;
- Thirty percent (flat from last year) indicated that they do, if they believe the reviews are authentic;
- Twenty-six percent (up from 24 percent last year) indicated that they do, for some types of business, no for others; and
- Just 13 percent (down from 21 percent last year) indicated that they do not.
With the most common answer being that they do trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations if there are multiple customer reviews to read, it’s interesting to note that two-thirds of respondents need to read up to six reviews before they feel that they can trust the business.
Also of note: 92 percent of respondents will use a local business if it has a four-star rating; 72 percent if it has a three-star rating; but just 27 percent if it has a two-star rating.
Turning to business types, the survey of 2,104 consumers (90 percent in the U.S.; 10 percent in Canada) reveals that:
- Restaurants and cafes are the business type that have been searched for by the largest proportion (58 percent) of respondents during the past 12 months, followed by doctors/dentists (38 percent), general shops (36 percent) and clothes shops (34 percent);
- The largest share (56 percent) of respondents have read online customer reviews for restaurants and cafes, with hotels and B&Bs (35 percent) and doctors and dentists (35 percent) next; and
- Reputation matters the most for doctors and dentists (47 percent) and for restaurants and cafes (46 percent).
In terms of reputation, the study indicates that the most important of seven identified traits when selecting a local business to use is reliability (27 percent), with expertise (21 percent) and professionalism (18 percent) next-most important.
Finally, some 61 percent have recommended a local business to people they know via word-of-mouth, with Facebook (38 percent) the next-most popular recommendation method.
- Consumers Increasingly Reading, Trusting Online Customer Reviews for Local Businesses – MarketingCharts
- Local Consumer Review Survey 2014 – BrightLocal
- Local Consumer Review Survey 2013 – BrightLocal
How do you see online reviews affecting the consumer’s path to purchase? Do you see online reviews becoming an even bigger purchase driver component in the years ahead?