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Bazaarvoice Research Reveals Consumer Behaviors Behind Seasonal Purchase Patterns

AUSTIN, Texas, June 30, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Bazaarvoice, Inc. (Nasdaq:BV), the network connecting brands and retailers to the authentic voices of consumers wherever they shop, has published the global edition of The Conversation Index Volume 7 . Based on an analysis of sample data from the Bazaarvoice network, including more than 57 million reviews and upwards of 35 billion product pageviews, The Conversation Index Volume 7 reveals how online consumer conversations can help predict shopping behavior during critical seasonal shopping periods. The data also indicates a number of recommended strategies businesses can act on to help maximize sales and deliver better consumer experiences. For example:

Travel reviews show seasonality in traveler type and which amenities are most important.
  • Review submission data shows that pleasure travel booms in April and stays high through September. A sharp spike between June and August aligns with increases in family travel—when the kids are out of school.
  • Positive reviews from all types of travelers most often mention the destination's location, breakfast, and the friendliness of the staff, but seasonal trends reveal when to target different types of travelers and what amenities should receive special attention.
  • Recommendation to hoteliers: Target families and pleasure travelers from April to September, and look for opportunities to improve areas that most often cause these travelers to write negative reviews: water temperature and pressure, small rooms and pool, cigarette smoke, and street noise. From October to March, the focus should be on friends and business travelers, with an emphasis on high quality Internet service and fitness rooms for business travelers, while travelers with friends are sensitive to the quality of the sofa bed, A/C, and bathrooms.

The start of back-to-school shopping aligns with the length of breaks between academic terms.
  • In the U.S., which operates on a typical semester-based academic calendar punctuated by a 12-week summer break, shoppers started researching back-to-school purchases as early as mid-June in 2013—only days after the end of the school year for many students.
  • The reverse is true in countries with a trimester or quarter system punctuated by relatively short breaks throughout the year: back-to-school research peaked in January in Australia and in April in Japan, just prior to the start of the academic year in each country.
  • Recommendation to retailers: Back-to-school campaigns stocked with consumer reviews are best prepared to earn shoppers' sales. Visitors to consumer electronics or office supplier product pages were 37% more likely to buy if they interacted with reviews, and revenue per visit in these industries increased 28% and 48%, respectively.

European bank holidays inspire home improvement research.
  • On average, consumers in the U.K. and France access customer reviews and Q&A for do-it-yourself (DIY) supplies 15% more often on bank holidays in May and August than the average for the rest of those months.
  • Recommendation to retailers: In May, stock gardening products and other outdoor DIY supplies that consumers research the most during long weekends spent decorating their terraces, balconies, and gardens in preparation for summer. In August, stock the tools, supplies, and indoor decorations consumers turn their focus toward in preparation for winter.

Consumer reviews are inextricably linked to end-of-year holiday sales.
  • According to ComScore, online spending on Black Friday and Cyber Monday reached $1.2 billion and $1.7 billion, respectively—increases of 169% and 239% over the daily e-commerce average for the first 29 days of November 2013. In parallel, review pageviews on Black Friday and Cyber Monday beat the November daily average by 77% and 84%, respectively.
  • The global significance of Black Friday and Cyber Monday notwithstanding, both days are outperformed in review pageviews on Boxing Day in the countries that celebrate it. Across the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Hong Kong, and South Africa, review pageviews spiked to approximately 40 million on Black Friday and Cyber Monday—and reached a peak of nearly 45 million on Boxing Day. Not surprisingly, data from Experian Hitwise shows that Boxing Day 2013 was the busiest day ever for online retailers in the U.K.
  • Recommendation to retailers and brands: To draw in customers, prominently display reviews for predicted holiday bestsellers, such as providing a "top rated" gift list online and in marketing content. In addition, consider a product sampling program to load up review volume before the holiday shopping season kicks off.

"Marketers are accustomed to creating seasonal shopping campaigns at regular points on the calendar, but analyzing product reviews offers new insights that promote more effective consumer engagement during these critical sales periods," said Lisa Pearson, chief marketing officer at Bazaarvoice. "Reviews help inform when consumers start evaluating products, what features they care about most, and what new habits they're forming as they research and make a purchase. Understanding these finer points can not only provide a competitive advantage during the busiest shopping seasons, but also be a key component to winning new customers year-round."

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