Consumers who rely on online reviews behave quite differently from those that turn to friends and relatives for advice on what to buy. Retailers and brands should tailor their messages to fit the values of these two distinct groups.

Sarah Title, content marketing manager, Resonate

Have you ever bought something that had a bad online review? Do you try out a friend’s product that you’re interested in before making the purchase? Between the easy access to online reviews and advice from friends and family, consumers are more empowered than ever when making decisions about what to buy. Since brands can’t control what shoppers say about them online, this is just another way that brands and retailers have less ownership over conversion.

Online reviews have the power to dramatically influence purchase decisions depending on things like average star rating and number of reviews. Product reviews have the power to increase conversion by 270 percent, according to the Spiegel Research Center. In a recent Bizrate Insights survey of online reviews, 92 percent of respondents said they read at least one review before making a purchase, and many of them are looking at more than one review source. Google is the most used channel, with close to 60 percent of shoppers using it to read reviews.

Nearly 60 percent of consumers consult friends and family for help with a purchase decision.

Brands and retailers should crave reviews for their products. After all, if there aren’t enough reviews for a particular product, consumers won’t believe it’s trustworthy, according to Bizrate. Over 25 percent of survey respondents said they trusted a product’s rating if it had between 11 and 50 reviews, with 21 percent of respondents needing between 51 and 100 reviews to deem a product trustworthy.

The opinions of friends and family may be just as, if not more, powerful as online reviews. While marketers spend money on advertising, celebrities and influencers, consumers most trust recommendations from their personal networks, according to a study by SurveyMonkey. About half of consumers have never bought something because of an advertisement. Fewer than 1 in 10 people have purchased a product because of a celebrity endorsement, and only 13 percent have purchased because of an online influencer.


Of all advertising media, TV is the most effective, but friends and family are approximately twice as influential across the board. Nearly 60 percent of consumers consult friends and family for help with a purchase decision. This makes things challenging, since you can’t pay a friend or family member to say positive things about your company (although, don’t you wish you could?).

We looked at Resonate’s analytics to get a better sense of the motivations that drive advice-seeking consumers. Here’s what we discovered.

Online Review Shoppers

The 3.3 million review shoppers we analyzed in the Resonate platform are people who regularly check several of the top product review sites, such as Consumer Reports and Trustpilot. These review shoppers are all about living their best life.

They’re driven by enjoying life’s pleasures, living an exciting life and romantic love. They also appreciate their fellow humans since they’re driven by accepting people who are different and they avoid upsetting people. They seek recognition from their peers, take care of themselves with diet and exercise, and keep their work and personal lives separate.


The top retailers that have captured these shoppers’ loyalty are Overstock, Nordstrom Rack and Aldi. In apparel, you’ll find them buying Asics, Under Armour and Columbia.

Friend and Family Advice-Seeking Shoppers

People who seek advice and recommendations from friends and family are a bit different. Their faith is important to them, and their top personal value is fulfilling obligations and obeying rules.

They like thinking up new ideas and like to prove their competence and skills. Religion is an integral part of their lives, as well as diet and exercise. Being responsible is important to them since another one of their top personal values is being a reliable and trusted family member and friend. They also like having the freedom to think up new ideas, and they’re driven by proving their competence and skills.

Their top three retailers are TJ Maxx, Ace and Aldi. When it comes to apparel, they’re buying Skechers, Victoria’s Secret and Adidas.


Putting Insights into Action

Clearly, the review shopper will look for product reviews on your website. Nearly 80 percent of consumers want customer ratings and reviews on a retailer’s website, according to Forrester.

So encourage your customers to leave honest reviews. Your brand will gain credibility by not removing the less-than-stellar reviews from its website, and they may help guide your product selection or development. Your messaging to these consumers should include how they can get back to living their best life when they have product reviews taking the stress out of making tough purchase decisions.

For brands with a loyal following, encourage them to bring in their friends and family and offer them an incentive for doing so. Once you make contact with those new customers, your messaging to them should be about trust and reliability.


By understanding how reviews and advice impact the purchase decisions of today’s advice-seeking consumers, brands will see better engagement and conversion. Marketing is a new frontier in personalization. Crossing the threshold requires a more holistic consumer understanding that allows brands to build unbreakable relationships that drive customer lifetime value.

Resonate provides consumer intelligence technology and services designed to help marketers better engage their target audiences.