And those reviews are having a considerable impact on purchase decisions. According to a recent survey by Deloitte's Consumer Products group, almost two-thirds (62 percent)of consumers read consumer-written product reviews on the Internet. Of these, more than eight in 10 (82 percent) say their purchase decisions have been directly influenced by the reviews, either influencing them to buy a different product than the one they had originally been thinking about purchasing or confirming the original purchase intention. Interestingly, while the percentages were slightly higher for the younger generations, all age groups are reading and acting on online reviews at significant rates. In addition, the reach of consumer reviews isn't limited to the online world; seven in 10 (69 percent) consumers who read reviews share them with friends, family or colleagues, thus amplifying their impact.
"This increasing market transparency can adversely impact the margins, market share and brand equity of consumer products companies," said Pat Conroy, vice chairman and US consumer products group leader at Deloitte & Touche USA LLP. "In the past, clever marketers and advertisers shaped brands, but now consumers are increasingly empowered, everyone has a voice, and information and opinions are instantly dispersed. Consumer product companies need to determine how best to capitalize on this new landscape. Clearly, there will be consequences for those who don't."