Businesses looking to maximise their internet marketing efforts may want to pay attention to a new report suggesting that search engines are used by most consumers looking for information on potential purchases.

Opinion Research surveyed 736 consumers over a four-day period earlier this month and found that 61 per cent – equivalent to almost two-thirds of the group – prefer to use search engines to look for user-generated content like reviews, blog postings and other evaluations on specific products and services.

Seven in ten of those polled further indicated that they turn to online consumer-generated content when looking up information on individual brands, while 83 per cent said they have been influenced by reviews and blogs when buying items in the past, according to Opinion Research.

Almost a third of respondents revealed that they had previously posted their own product and service and reviews on the internet, while 38 per cent make the web their first port of call when they start their shopping research.

The most popular category of goods and services for such research was discovered to be travel, recreation and leisure, cited by 82 per cent of consumers, followed by electronic goods (80 per cent) and household products and services (66 per cent).

Linda Shea of Opinion Research urged firms to be more aware of the increase in consumer-generated reviews and their growing impact on others’ buying habits.

She added that just one unfavourable review can do much to put off a web user from buying a certain item.

Meanwhile, Vincent Potier, managing director of internet telephony service provider Vonage, recently spoke out about the recent resurgence of consumer power against large corporations and brands, citing the internet as one of the major enabling factors in facilitating this trend.

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