As consumers are focusing on customer ratings and reviews more than ever, Emplifi has published a new study in partnership with Harris Interactive to investigate the impact of these reviews on consumer behavior, providing insights into areas such as product research and user-generated content. The study, Meeting the Demands of the Modern Customer: A Deep Dive Into The Importance of Social Influence, emphasizes the growing importance of brand authenticity and the need for brands to have a strong customer review strategy to boost customer loyalty and enhance the shopping experience.
Real-Time Customer Reviews Have More Impact
Emplifi's study revealed that not all customer reviews are the same and that some hold more weight than others.
In fact, 87% of the consumers said that real-life customer reviews had more of an influence on their purchasing decisions, compared to only 50% for an influencer or celebrity reviews.
The study also found that 58% of consumers highly value product pictures or videos posted by real-life customers when researching products online. Additionally, the study showed that customer reviews and ratings are the most influential factor in purchasing decisions when researching products online, outranking price, return policy, and shipping costs.
"There's no better way to demonstrate brand authenticity than by putting organic customer experiences front and center. Brands that are already leveraging UGC are seeing measurable results. The key is to make this content easily accessible on your product pages so customers can conduct their research right on your website without having to visit other sites to find authentic customer reviews. Celebrity testimonials are costly and, ironically, don't have the same impact as content from a real-life customer which is great news for brands. Marketers are able to maximize their budget by doubling down on content customers are creating free of charge that significantly impacts purchasing decisions," said Chief of Strategy Kyle Wong, Emplifi.
Consumers Visit Multiple Websites Before Making a Decision
The study highlighted the significant role of product research in the buyer's journey. Nearly all (95%) of the consumers surveyed researched products priced between $5-20 on one or more websites. Marketplaces were found to be the most commonly used source of information for lower-priced products. In contrast, search engines were the most frequently used product research platform for items over $100.
"Customers are willing to invest time in researching products of all prices. With inflation and a looming recession, we can expect shoppers to be even more discerning with their money and the items they are purchasing. Brands should be mindful of this shift and employ an omnichannel approach, leveraging product reviews and information on the brand website, marketplace product listings, YouTube videos, blog posts, and any other channel popular with their audience. The modern consumer is savvy and willing to visit several websites to feel confident about their purchase," added Wong.
Different Generation Shopping Habits
According to the study, there were no significant differences in product research behavior between Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z consumers. Regardless of their generation, most consumers tend to visit one to two websites and spend up to 15 minutes researching products priced between $5-20 before making a purchase. As the price of the item increases, the number of websites visited for research purposes also increases. Regarding high-end purchases in the $20-100 range, 25% of online shoppers from all generations are willing to visit more than 20 web pages to gather information and make informed purchasing decisions.
"Brands often think of generations in silos when developing marketing campaigns. It’s a strategic tactic to personalize your messaging. But when it comes to ratings, reviews, and product information, all generations want the same thing: authentic content from real-life customers. This makes it even more essential for brands to encourage their customers to leave reviews and feedback. With more than half of online shoppers stating that they will not purchase from a brand without checking ratings or reviews first, brands need to ensure they have a steady supply or risk missing out on revenue, " added Wong.
Elsewhere, Emplifi has recently integrated with Snapchat to allow Emplifi's Social Marketing Cloud users to view and manage their Snapchat content directly from Emplifi's platform without leaving the Social Marketing Cloud.