Research done in 2011 found that the average shopper consults 10.4 information sources prior to purchase—almost twice as many as in 2010. Today, review sites (whether Amazon or CNET, Yelp or Zagat) tell us about the reliability and use- fulness of products, and help us predict the experience we can expect at restaurants or hotels. Through social media, it’s become almost effortless to get recommendations from friends and acquaintances.
In 2012, 70 percent of consumers surveyed by Nielsen indicated that they trusted online reviews—which represents an increase of 15 percent in four years. Thirty percent of U.S. consumers start their online purchase research with Amazon, which, with its wealth of reviews, is a clearing- house for product information. Research done for Google in 2011 found that the average shopper consults 10.4 information sources prior to purchase—almost twice as many as in 2010.
The cumulative effects of these technologies, and their dramatic impacts on how consumers make decisions, pose a major challenge to established ideas about marketing and related business functions. Sim- ply put, they make influencing consumers through relative tactics and cues, such as brand and price,much harder.
The new reliance on absolute value means that, on average, consumers will tend to make better decisions and become less susceptible to con- text or framing manipulations. For businesses, it means that marketing is changing forever.