Brands are being warned to monitor their online reputation closely as consumers increasingly rely on web reviews and ratings to aid their purchase decisions.
As National Consumer Week draws to a close, Graeme Crossley, CEO of brand communications agency Brand Reputation believes that many brands are still failing to realise the emergence of ‘Google Enabled Choices’ or appreciate just how many consumers are now relying on web reviews to aid their purchase decisions, with some opting to have no contact whatsoever with brands offline prior to deciding to buy.
“Brands need to recognise that the online world has much more power than they may realise and can often be the only resource a consumer needs when evaluating which brand to buy. We are seeing more people making purchase decisions on high value items such as cars and electronic equipment based purely on online reviews from other customers and this is a trend which will only get stronger,” says Crossley.
Crossley believes that online reviews are becoming as important as word of mouth recommendations, a view that is mirrored in recent research by Rubicon Consulting that revealed they were the most influential factors in consumer purchasing decisions.
But what was of most concern to Crossley was the results of a survey by Lightspeed Research, which revealed that 71% of all respondents said they would read a review before making a purchase decision about a new camera, MP3 player or mobile phone and 33% of respondents said they would be dissuaded from buying a product after reading just two negative reviews. Over three quarters of respondents also said they would be deterred from buying after reading three bad reviews.
Crossley believes that brands need to become more vocal online, interact directly with consumers in the places where they are most active and tackle the issue of negative comments proactively, rather than ‘burying their heads in the sand and hoping the noise will die down’.
“When you think of the huge budgets that consumer brands spend on campaigns, the fact that the views of just two individuals could undo so much of the brand messaging it shows why brands need to take this seriously.” says Crossley.
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