November 30, 2007, 12:00 AM

Survey probes what motivates online product reviewers

A Bazaarvoice/Keller Fay Group study finds online reviewers are more inclined to want to help the online community than to seek a platform for bashing a brand.

A previous study from online product review service provider Bazaarvoice showed that positive reviews posted online outnumber negative reviews eight to one. Now a new survey from the vendor and Keller Fay Group sheds some light on why: People who post reviews are more motivated by a desire to help the online community than by wanting an opportunity to bash brands.

The survey of more than 1,300 consumers who posted one or more reviews on sites using Bazaarvoice technology determined that 79% of those responding see reviews as a way of giving back to the review community. More than 75% said they post reviews in order to reward a company, and over 70% said they want to help companies improve the products they build and carry.

“These results indicate reviewers are motivated to help others and give back to the online community, not to knock down brands,” says Brad Fay, CEO of the Keller Fay Group. “This debunks a major myth about word of mouth and should encourage companies and CMOs to be more comfortable with ‘letting go’ and inviting consumers to talk about their experiences.”

The survey also offers a view of online reviewers as a group. They are active Internet users, with 84% saying they purchase products online, 77% saying they send more than 10 e-mails a day, and 25% saying they participate in social networks. Additionally, 20% said they post messages on other people’s blogs or in other people’s chat rooms, and nearly 60% have told friends or family about a product experience.

The survey also found that online reviewers are significantly more likely to post a review right on a retailer’s or manufacturer’s site than they are on an independent review site such as ePinions or CNET. And underscoring the prevalence of multi-channel shopping, 65% said they have gone to a retailer’s site to post a review about an offline purchase.

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