Consumers under the age of 35 put most trust in anonymous online customer reviews

Press Release

Females are more trusting of both family and friends, and customer reviews. Males are relatively more trusting of independent experts and direct sales information from store staff or websites.

The latest findings from the Deloitte Consumer Review show that consumers are no longer using the internet to simply source information. Engaging with businesses and other consumers, as well as sharing experiences, is becoming an increasingly important part of the purchasing decision and the majority of consumers under the age of 35 put most of their trust in anonymous online consumer reviews.

The research, which looked into the evolving use of online resources in consumers’ purchasing behaviours, found that when it comes to sourcing information, the internet tops the list as the primary source for consumers on new products and services, as identified by 24% of respondents. This was followed by TV or radio (24%), friends and family (13%) and in a shop (12%). Interestingly, only 10% of respondents noted social media as their first port of call for product information.

An increasing number of customers are buying online with nine out of ten Irish adults making online purchases last year. Clothing and footwear (49%), hotel and accommodation (46%), transport services (44%) and books, music and games (42%) are amongst the most popular items purchased online.

Another notable finding is that females are more trusting of both family and friends, and customer reviews, while males are relatively more trusting of independent experts and direct sales information from store staff or websites.

Key findings of the H1 2015 Consumer Review with regard to online activity include:

  • 90% of Irish adults made an online purchase in the last year.
  • Most likely items to be purchased online include:

−     Clothing and footwear (49%)

−     Hotel and accommodation (46%)

−     Transport services (44%)

−     Books, music and games (42%)

  • Over half of customers visited websites of businesses selling similar products.
  • 35% of customers read online reviews, while only 32% spoke to in-store staff.
  • 26% of respondents said the internet was the most common primary source of information followed by radio (24%), friends or family (13%), shops (12%) and social media (10%).
  • 63% of customers indicate that they trust feedback from family and friends followed by customer reviews (58%) and independent product or service experts (39%).
  • Two-thirds of customers said their purchasing decisions are influenced by other customers’ experiences, where a similar proportion often share their experiences as consumers, regardless of whether these are positive or negative.

David Hearn, Partner, Deloitte commented: “Our research highlights the ever increasing importance of online resources for both consumers and businesses. Consumers use the internet to research product information, compare prices, check availability and find out about the opinions and experiences of other consumers. However the internet is now also empowering consumers and they are embracing the opportunity to share their opinions, positive and negative, about products and services they have purchased. Critically, these opinions are seen as more reliable than the retailer’s message, and even independent product experts, and are influencing the purchasing decisions of others.

“For businesses, no longer is it sufficient to simply maintain an online presence. Customer engagement needs to evolve further. Old established patterns can no longer be relied on, and businesses need to rethink about how they engage with consumers. Do they actively engage in online conversations taking place in external forums? Do they just monitor online content as a way of gaining customer feedback? Although this new landscape can appear daunting it cannot be ignored and the rewards for those who get it right, and for those up-and-coming businesses who are seeking to challenge the incumbents, are clear.”

Dual economy emergence in Ireland

The research also revealed that a dual economy is emerging in Ireland, showing that while the level of optimism amongst Irish consumers has increased, it is not across the board and many remain pessimistic.  The findings show that optimism across all categories, such as level of debt, job security, job opportunities, household disposable income, good health and wellbeing and children’s education, has increased since September 2014 by between 2 and 7 percentage points. Notable however, respondents who felt that things had worsened over the last six months also increased across most categories (except health and wellbeing which remained stable) by between 1 and 12 percentage points.

“The fact that there are Irish consumers who believe their situation is getting better is likely as a result of the improving economy. Yet, this is not yet being felt across the board, and there is a cohort of Irish consumers who have become more pessimistic. Overall, the findings point to evidence of a dual economy emerging amongst Irish consumers,” Mr Hearn said.

“From a retailer’s perspective they will need to cater for Irish consumers who are facing different situations. The emerging evidence of a dual economy suggests retailers will need to continue to utilise sales and promotions to attract some consumers, while the emergence of increased activity in spend on more discretionary items would suggest that some retailers can now focus on or add more to this element of their offerings,” Mr Hearn said.

The full report can be found here: Deloitte Consumer Review 2015.


Notes to Editors

About the survey

The research was carried out by Amárach as part of an omnibus survey. A total sample of 1,000 was achieved with quotas set on gender, age, social class and region to achieve a sample aligned with the national population. Interviewing fieldwork dates were 20 to 27 March 2015.

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The information contained in this press release is correct at the time of going to press.

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