comScore today announced the results of a new study that examined the impact of online consumer-generated reviews on the price consumers were willing to pay for a service delivered offline.
The study, based on a survey of more than 2,000 U.S. Internet users in October 2007, revealed that consumers were willing to pay at least 20 percent more for services receiving an "Excellent," or 5-star, rating than for the same service receiving a "Good," or 4-star, rating.
The study examined the offline sales impact of online reviews for restaurants, hotels, travel, legal, medical, automotive and home services.
Nearly one out of every four Internet users (24 percent) reported using online reviews prior to paying for a service delivered offline. Of those who consulted an online review, 41 percent of restaurant reviewers subsequently visited a restaurant, while 40 percent of hotel reviewers subsequently stayed at a hotel.
Online reviews very influential in offline purchase decisions
More than three-quarters of review users in nearly every category reported that the review had a significant influence on their purchase, with hotels ranking the highest (87 percent).
Ninety-seven percent of those surveyed who said they made a purchase based on an online review said they found the review to have been accurate. Review users also noted that reviews generated by fellow consumers had a greater influence than those generated by professionals.
comScore asked the study participants how much they would be willing to pay for a particular service based on the quality of the service.
The results showed that consumers were willing to pay between 20 percent and 99 percent more for an Excellent (5 star) rating than for a Good (4 star rating), depending on the product category.
"These data show the importance of local service review sites in consumers' purchase process," said Steve Marshall, research director for The Kelsey Group. "With such a large percentage of review users subsequently purchasing, it's vital that local service providers have a positive presence on these review sites."
"This study underscores the importance of providing not just good, but excellent, service if a business hopes to generate positive consumer reviews which will result in greater sales," said Brian Jurutka, senior director, comScore Marketing Solutions.
The comScore study was based on 2,078 survey respondents, including 508 who used online consumer reviews, conducted from October 12-18, 2007.
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