e-commerce, online shopping, reviews

A recent report, “State of Online Reviews,” released by Podium, a content generation and branding agency, showcases the inner-workings of shoppers as they leave scorching reviews of retailers and brands — and sometimes, their lackluster experiences. The comments, though, aren’t usually meant to impede on the brand’s success. Instead, researchers note, comments are left to warn fellow consumers.

The study surveyed 2,005 consumers in effort to evaluate the motivations behind online reviews and the factors that shape the responses. The picture drawn by the results is that consumers are highly influenced by peer reviews — 93 percent of the participants said online reviews impact their purchases. In order to sway shoppers, the research found that a rating of 3.3 stars out of five stars is required to make any resounding changes.

It’s a highly popular forum in which shoppers frequent, the report concludes. Nearly 60 percent of the respondents refer to online reviews weekly, while 21 percent look multiple times. Consumers mostly hit the “Big Three,” the report’s grouping of most popular referral and general forums for feedback that include Google, Facebook and Yelp.

Of the power triage, Google dominated as the primary source consumers visit to research local business — 81 percent said they used the search engine in the past year to conduct such inquiries. Fifty-nine percent of participants used Yelp and 49 percent tapped Facebook to research peer reviews.

Though the survey’s findings on top results was generally unsurprising, the conclusions drawn surrounding the intentions behind reviews was less obvious. “They [consumers] are doing so because they want to help consumers have a better experience or to give businesses constructive feedback to help them improve,” the report said. Of those polled, 33 percent said they left reviews to inform others about the customer experience — 26 percent said they left reviews to help others make decisions; twenty-four percent left a review to let the business know about their experience.

This highlights key opportunities for brands and retailers to tap patrons willing to leave a review — positive or negative. This is another point of possible engagement for brands to not only hone in on individual experiences but display readiness to receive and adjust services, according to customer feedback. Consider possible loyalty or patronage points in order to move the needle on constructive reviews.

More on Consumer Behavior from WWD:

Study on Millennials Show Cohort as Connected – And Oblivious?

Australians Own More Smartphones, but Complete Fewer Online Purchases

Salesforce Insights on Shifting Consumer Behavior in a Mobile Landscape

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