POSTED BY: | October 1, 2010

Pew Internet & American Life Project

Nearly six-in-ten adults (58%) have done research online about the products and services they buy, and about a quarter (24%) have posted comments or reviews online about the things they buy.

On a typical day, 21% of adults search for product information online. This is an increase from 15% in 2007 and 9% in 2004.


The share of adults who report having at least occasionally conducted product or service research online has also increased—from 49% in 2004 to 58% in 2010.

The 2010 data come from a telephone survey by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project conducted between Aug. 9 and Sept. 13, 2010. The survey was administered to a sample of 3,001 adults, ages 18 and older, using a combination of landline and cellular telephones. Interviews were conducted in English or Spanish. The sample margin of error is plus or minus 2.5 percentage points for the general population and plus or minus 2.9 percentage points for internet users (n=2,065).

Among internet users, 78% say that they at least occasionally conduct product research and 32% report that they have posted online product comments.

The increase in product and service research online coincides with a general trend in stepped-up use of the internet for commercial activities. Pew Internet Project’s initial surveys:

  • The proportion of the general population that has bought products such as books, music, toys or clothing online rose from 36% in May 2000 to 52% in the Pew Internet Project’s May 2010 survey.
  • The proportion of the general population that has made travel reservations or bought travel services such airline tickets, hotel rooms or rental cars rose from 22% in May 2000 to 52% in the Pew Internet Project’s May 2010 survey.

The sharing of product and service information also coincides with increasing use of social networking sites, with 46% of Americans reporting the use of internet sites such as Facebook or LinkedIn. That is an increase from the 5% who reported using social networking sites when the Pew Internet Project first started asking about them in a survey in February 2005. Such sites might be informal channels of commercial information that are shared in social networks, though the Pew Internet Project survey did not specifically address this aspect.

For more information from the report, click here.