NEW YORK, NY — Based on Influenster’s latest survey findings, 97% of women in the U.S. own smartphones and that has a huge influence on how they shop. These women span generations X, Y and Z and cite product reviews as the top factor they consider before making shopping decisions. While Gen X and Y rely primarily on traditional product reviews to make shopping decisions, Gen Z relies primarily on product reviews generated via social media to inform their purchase decisions.

Influenster surveyed 11,266 women consumers in the U.S. to find out how they shop and how they use product reviews to make their purchase decisions.

Quality, price and reviews are the top product concerns when making shopping decisions

Women cited the following as their most trusted sources for product recommendations (in order of most to least trusted): friends and family, consumer opinion, significant other, social media personalities, co-workers, celebrities and salespeople in stores.

The women surveyed cited the following as the most important factors they consider before making a shopping decision: quality (82%), price (82%), reviews (58%), a discount/sale (50%), free shipping (34%), brand name (24%) and photos of people using the brand/product (11%). Notably, a product’s brand name is low in priority on women’s path to purchase.

When shopping on mobile devices, an overwhelming 62% of women shop on mobile websites compared to mobile apps (36%) and social media buy buttons (2%).

Women rely on product reviews, social media and word of mouth to inform their shopping decisions

The women surveyed identified the following as the factors that have the greatest influence over their shopping decisions: product reviews (68%), social media (56%), word of mouth (55%), advertisments (25%), blogs (21%), print magazines (8%), catalogues (8%), news websites (6%) and the newspaper (5%).

While Gen X chooses Facebook as the most influential social media platform with regards to shopping, Gen Y and Z prefer Instagram. Across the generations, the social media platforms that most heavily influence buying behavior are as follows: Instagram (63%), YouTube (53%), Facebook (51%), Pinterest (45%), Snapchat (21%), blogs (18%), Twitter (15%), Google+ (7%),

Reddit (4%), Periscope (1%). Notably, Twitter fared poorly amongst the social media giants, confirming that it is not the choice platform for decision-making on potential purchases.

77% of women seek out product reviews to buy a product

When asked why they seek out product reviews, 77% of women across generations revealed that they seek out reviews because they are considering buying a product. This reason outweighed other important ones such as to discover new products (60%), to compare the product against competitors (57%) and to be in-the-know (45%). In fact, 44% of women spend at least 20 minutes researching product reviews before making a purchase.

When asked how they interact with reviews, 81% of women answered that they read reviews, 56% of them rate products and write reviews, while 50% of them watch video reviews. Other activities include: looking at photos of reviewers using the product (38%), asking questions (33%), marking other reviews as helpful (32%), answering questions (30%), uploading photos of products (22%), sharing reviews (22%), rating products but not writing reviews (13%) followed by posting video reviews (9%).

When it comes to product reviews, the quality of the review (67%) is most important to women; star rating (57%) ranks second in importance, followed by the relevancy of the review to the user (47%). Other factors include: the reliability of the reviewer (40%), reliability of the website (34%), photos (33%), recency of the review (30%), ability to ask and answer questions (24%) and shareability of the review (7%).

Mobile phones (59%) are used most often by women to seek out product reviews online, followed by laptops/desktops (33%) and tablets (8%). Women are more likely to seek out products reviews online while actively shopping (67%) vs. while passively browsing (33%) (e.g. killing time while at home or work)

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With regards to where the different generations seek out product reviews, Gen X and Gen Y do so largely on retailer websites while Gen Z relies on social media. When looking at the generations as a whole, they seek out product reviews on retailer websites most often (80%), followed by social media (68%), third-party blogs/vlogs/websites (58%) and finally brand websites (43%).

72% of women trust a product page based on the total number of reviews on the page

When surveyed about what makes them trust a product review page, women revealed that the total number of reviews is a top factor (72%). In fact, over half of women need to see a minimum of 50 reviews on a product review page before trusting the page to be reliable. Other factors that affect trustworthiness of a product page include: the ratio of positive to negative reviews (61%), credibility of the reviews site or blog (43%), credibility of the reviewer (40%), recency of reviews

(26%), disclosure of whether the reviewer had received the product as a sample for testing purposes (25%).

While 41% of women seek out positive product reviews first on a reviews page, the remaining group reads negative reviews (30%) and well-balanced reviews (29%) in almost equal measure.

Three quarters of women have written a negative review; and find it important that brands respond to them

Most women (69%) feel compelled to write a review when they are satisfied with a product/service as compared to 23% of them who are motivated by dissatisfaction and 8% who are compelled by neutral feelings.

Of the women surveyed, 78% have written a negative review and 54% of them think that it’s important for brands to respond to their negative reviews. Of all modes of communication, 69% of women like to correspond with brands via email, followed by brand website contact pages (56%), social media (47%), leaving a review on a product page (34%), asking a question on a product page (30%), phone call (19%) and instant messenger (9%). For the modern-day consumer who is so text-savvy, it is striking that instant messaging with brands ranked lowest in terms of preferred modes of communication.

These are some of the key findings from an Influenster survey conducted from Aug 4 – Oct 18, 2016, with a total of 11,266 completes and a sample of 11,266 users across all ages (14 – 18: 7%; 19 – 35: 79%; 36 – 44: 11%, 45-51: 3%) with heavy social media usage (On 2+ social media channels: 99%). Average age of respondent: 27. The survey was conducted online in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. The margin of sampling error is +/- .92 percentage points.

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