Word of mouth tops online reviews as purchase influencer, survey finds

Online reviews and comments written by users are second only to word of mouth as a purchase influence for most Americans, according to a survey of web users released by Rubicon Consulting. Among web users (who are about 70% of the US population), content on the web has moved into second place, ahead of printed reviews and advice from salespeople

The survey underlined the importance of online information in driving purchase decisions while revealing the power of the 9% of web users who produce 80% of all user-generated content.

Here are some survey insights about the Internet’s influence:

  • The web is the #2 resource for customer support information, after user manuals. It ranks ahead of calling the manufacturer or asking a dealer.
  • Website categories that get the most daily usage are search, social communities like MySpace and Facebook, general news websites like CNN.com and NYTimes.com, and online banking.
  • The websites that Americans value most are (in order), Google, Yahoo, YouTube, Wikipedia, and Facebook.
  • Young people (age 22 and under) are much noisier online than their elders. They account for about half of all the content and comments posted online.
  • Facebook appears to be ahead of MySpace in terms of number of users in the US, and perceived value of the site.
  • Despite the publicity, the community sites SecondLife and Twitter reach only a few percent of US Internet users.

[Download the full report]