Kantar Retail: The 'trusted source' relationship

Research reveals 41 per cent of shoppers are influenced by product reviews
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Kantar Retail’s Stephen Mader examines how retailers are starting to leverage third-parties as a trusted source of expertise.

It should be no surprise that reading product reviews online is now part of the shopper’s standard path to purchase in discretionary categories such as consumer electronics. In fact, 41 per cent of the shoppers we surveyed said that product reviews were the top influencer of their purchase decision.

For retailers and brands, the idea of owning the trusted source relationship has been engrained over decades. Retailers can claim to own the relationship due to the face-to-face engagement in-store, and brands can claim to own the relationship because of the emotional connection generated through marketing. Online product reviews and ratings tend to throw a wrench into these previously well- defined relationships, which is why we are starting to see some large retailers turning to third-party experts.

Target, one of the largest mass merchandisers globally, recently announced that it will turn to CNET.com to provide product and category expertise in the run up to the Christmas season this year. The relationship will manifest itself on Target.com with integrated reviews and ratings, and will be extended in-store via a list of ‘CNET Editors’ Picks for Target’, with QR codes linking shoppers out to the online review.

Here at Kantar Retail HQ we anticipate this kind of retailer/brand/expert partnership to gain momentum both online and in- store. Though it begs the question – what next? Will the store of the future’s assortment be dictated by a top 25 ranking, and what happens if your product falls off the list?

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