81 Percent of Online Holiday Shoppers Read Online Customer Reviews, According to Nielsen Online

Thu Dec 18, 2008 10:00am EST

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  NEW YORK, NY, Dec 18 (MARKET WIRE) -- 
Nielsen Online, a service of the Nielsen Company, today announced that 81
percent of online shoppers have read product or retailer reviews by other
customers when doing their holiday shopping this year. Customer reviews
are an important research tool for online consumers, with 71 percent
agreeing that consumer reviews make them more comfortable that they are
buying the right product. When evaluating this customer feedback, 63
percent of online shoppers indicated that it was important to have
multiple reviews for each product; 14 percent looked for reviews from an
established source; and just three percent sought out reviews by people
they knew personally (see Table 1).

    These results are from a Nielsen Online holiday survey intended to
understand the mindset of the U.S. online shopper. The online survey was
fielded from December 8 - 15 among approximately 1,000 online shoppers in
the U.S. who did holiday shopping online last year and/or planned to do so
this year.

    "Consumer reviews are a must-have for online retailers, especially during
the holiday season when shoppers are buying for others in categories
they're less familiar with," said Ken Cassar, vice president, industry
insights, Nielsen Online. "Perhaps more than any other time of year,
consumers are looking for outside feedback for guidance."

Table 1: Factors in Evaluating Customer Reviews

Factor                                                 % of Respondents
The product has multiple ratings or reviews                          63
The rating or review comes from an established source                14
The rating or review comes from someone I know                        3
Other                                                                 2

Source: Nielsen Online Holiday Survey, December 2008


    Nearly one-fourth, 24 percent, of online shoppers have spent more than
$500 so far this holiday season, with 22 percent spending between $100-199
online (see Table 2). The 24/7 shopping convenience of the Web was the
reason cited most frequently by respondents (78 percent) for

Table 2: Money Already Spent Online this Holiday Season

Amount            % of Respondents
Less than $100                  18
$100-199                        22
$200-299                        17
$30-399                         13
$400-499                         5
More than $500                  24

Source: Nielsen Online Holiday Survey, December 2008


    More than half of respondents, 55 percent, indicated that they logged onto
the Web site of a local brick and mortar retailer before visiting the
physical store. The primary reason for going online first was comparing
prices between retailers, followed by checking if an item was in stock and
looking for sales in stores (see Table 3).

    "With strong sales growth online in recent years, online sales have become
the sole focus in assessing Web retailers' holiday season success," said
Cassar. "This year, however, retailers should consider the online
contribution to store sales, in addition to online sales, when evaluating
how well the season went."

Table 3: Top 5 Reasons to Visit Retailer Web Site before Visiting Store

Reason                                                    % of Respondents
Wanted to compare prices between different retailers
 whose stores I might shop                                              33
Wanted to see if the product I was looking for was
 in stock                                                               28
Wanted to find sales in the store                                       26
Wanted to come up with holiday gift ideas before
 I went shopping                                                        22
I ordered online for in-store pickup                                    12

Source: Nielsen Online Holiday Survey, December 2008


    The most popular reason to shop at a particular online retailer was having
made a purchase there in the past, with 62 percent of respondents. Search
engines were the second most popular way to find an online retailer,
followed by offline catalogs, with 38 and 31 percent of respondents,
respectively (see Table 4). These results underscore the importance to
consumers of solid, longstanding relationships with retailers they trust.

Table 4: Top 5 Reasons to Shop at a Particular Web Site

Reason                                                     % of Respondents
I went to the retailer I have purchased from in the past                 62
I found the retailer through search engines                              38
I received a catalog in the mail from the retailer                       31
I came across an email promotion from the retailer                       25
I subscribe to e-newsletters from retailers                              25

Source: Nielsen Online Holiday Survey, December 2008

About Nielsen Online:

    Nielsen Online, a service of The Nielsen Company, delivers comprehensive,
independent measurement and analysis of online audiences, advertising,
video, consumer-generated media, word of mouth, commerce and consumer
behavior, and includes products previously marketed under the
Nielsen//NetRatings and Nielsen BuzzMetrics brands. With high quality,
technology-driven products and services, Nielsen Online enables clients to
make informed business decisions regarding their Internet, digital and
marketing strategies. For more information, please visit
www.nielsen-online.com. Also, visit our blog at

    About The Nielsen Company:

    The Nielsen Company is a global information and media company with leading
market positions in marketing and consumer information, television and
other media measurement, online intelligence, mobile measurement, trade
shows and business publications (Billboard, The Hollywood Reporter,
Adweek). The privately held company is active in more than 100 countries,
with headquarters in New York, USA. For more information, please visit,

    Editor's Note: Please source all data to Nielsen Online.


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