Consumer Product Reviews Are Your Biggest In-Store Influencers
Since ages ago, people’s attitudes, thoughts and behaviours have been influenced by others on many aspects including purchasing of new products and services.
Nowadays, the Internet is offering those who have a word to say and an experience to share their biggest avenue to communicate their opinions to others who are seeking out relevant information and trying to make their buying decisions right, hopefully without the need to returning their purchases later on – which is a terrible and unwanted hassle.
People have been trusting Word of Mouth, offline and online, significantly more than traditional marketing campaigns or paid influencers. That is because Word of Mouth is the central point of marketing from all its elements that exist.
Brief history of Word of Mouth
A historical proof of that is dated decades ago when home air conditioners and television had been for the first time introduced into the American consumer market. In 1954, William White Jr., the one who coined for the first time the term “word of mouth”, made an interesting observation on how houses that were using air conditioning or television (through their antennas displayed on the roof tops) were seen distributed in clusters by one who was passing the neighbourhood. Another similar and recent example from my own trips is the double glazed windows of old city apartment blocks which I used to stare at and count every time I was travelling across the country, on an attempt to identify display patterns. They were always present in clusters, indeed.
While communication means back then were extremely limited comparing to those available today, the air conditioners, television antennas and double glazed windows clusters were the result of neighbour-to-neighbour communication that shared their opinions on all aspects of the purchased products after having used them – from product quality, performance, installation steps, things to be aware of etc. Thus, their trustworthy message convinced the next neighbour and the next one and so on. Hence, the linear display patterns that the people passing by could notice.
From over the fence neighbour talk to online product reviews
Getting back to the Internet era, Word of Mouth has moved from the neighbours’ backyard over the fence talk into the online stores where it influences people’s attitudes and perception of products before purchasing them as well as product sales.
Today they’re called online product reviews and they share insights on products’ quality, usefulness and functionality, on brands and related services. People are seeking out product reviews as their trustworthiness is way much higher than any mass media marketing campaign. They come from consumers from all over the place, unknown people with lack of vested commercial interest whatsoever.
Written product reviews are rock solid vs. offline word of mouth
Product reviews are written instead of being verbally communicated in offline instances which makes them less transient. However, even if their message nuance remains intact over time, potential customers always tend to seek out and read the most recent product reviews which are usually displayed on the product reviews first page unless they (n. consumers) really need to deepen their investigation and seek evidence of repeated opinions on a certain aspect of a product on the following pages.
One-way direction in-store communication. Brands, where are you?
Consumer product reviews and questions asked in stores by potential customers are currently happening only consumer-to-consumer while brands are missing from these conversations. In most part, only a few questions are answered and when they are, the only answers come from consumers who had bought the product before. All these product reviews and potential customers’ questions influence sales.
Therefore, product reviews are a consumer market channel that brands should stay on to find out what compels consumers to write product reviews and spread the word about their satisfaction or dissatisfaction with their products or brand.
How brands can stay in touch with in-store product reviews?
Not all software tools available out there are alike and can support any kind of data aggregation. There are tools specialized on social media word of mouth and those are not designed to aggregate and continuously monitor in-store product reviews.
With from small to large product offerings, brands can keep their ears on customer product reviews by using specialized product review monitoring tools.
Thus, they can aggregate all product reviews in one place, covering their entire range of products within a category or more. Product reviews are aggregated on an on-going daily basis so that brands can permanently hear what customers talk about their products or brand as well as their competitors.
Aggregating and monitoring product reviews in stores make brands living every day among their customers and understanding how they should adapt their communication in line to their product reviews and tone of online word of mouth.
If you want to see where you are today with hearing your customers, you can get a personalized demo for your selected brands and products here.
[Biography source: Allan J. Kimmel, Philip J. Kitchen, Word of Mouth and Social Media]