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Love it or hate it: What we can learn from product reviews

Love it or hate it: What we can learn from product reviews

iModerate Author

Jul 06, 2016

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When you think about buying something new, what’s the first thing you do? For many, the first move is to scour online reviews and educate yourself on others’ experiences with the product you’re considering. What do people love about it? What do they hate? How does it compare to competitor’s products? An infographic from Invesp shows that 90% of consumers read online reviews and 88% trust them as much as personal recommendations. Furthermore, 72% of consumers will take action only after reading a positive review.

Brands aren’t blind to the importance of reviews in catalyzing the path to purchase. And they’re keenly aware of any peaks and valleys that occur. But many still use reviews mainly as the impetus to spark a customer service response ( e.g., Two stars and didn’t meet expectations? Time for a response). While this is certainly important, many brands are missing the boat by not mining these reviews for insights. The depth of context and wide-range of topics covered in reviews is staggering. And what’s best, it’s all there for you already.

Take product reviews as an example. Digging into the commentary can provide insight that multiple research studies might not deliver, such as intelligence around:

  • Performance / Usability: At a basic level, reviews tell you whether the product is doing what it should. But how easy it is it to use? Does it perform better in some circumstances vs. others? Is it simple to figure out, or is there a serious learning curve? Knowing these things will help you educate your consumers, make sure your product is delivering on its promise, and keep your customers happy.  
  • Customer experience: Brands should be taking every opportunity to learn more about how to improve their customer experience, and product reviews are a lay-up – stereotypically consumers are writing a review when they’re exceptionally happy or frustrated. Learning what leads to a top-notch experience and what leaves consumers upset can help brands replicate the good and eliminate the bad.
  • Brand perception: Even when giving feedback on a single product, a great deal about the brand can come out. Think about a brand that you love and buy from frequently. You likely have a certain standard that you expect their products to meet. Brands have the opportunity to learn what products are enhancing their name, and which ones are tarnishing it.
  • Purchase rationale: When consumers are reflecting on a product, an easy place to start is why they needed it or decided to buy it in the first place. Was it a long-awaited purchase or an impulse buy? Have they had a similar product before, or is this new to them? Learning more about these purchase triggers will allow brands to develop promotions to increase purchases from others.
  • Use cases: The product was developed for a specific purpose. But is that how it’s being used? Reviews are a great way to bring use cases to life and to learn a bit more about where your brand is additive in consumers’ everyday lives. You might learn of additional uses you weren’t previously aware of, allowing you to market in a different way and potentially tap into a new audience altogether.
  • Identity / Personas: Reviews are a great way to get to know your consumers better. Are they college students? Mothers? Neat Freaks? Understanding who loves your product and who is struggling with it can help you innovate with intention, tighten up your marketing strategy, and learn new ways to make everyone happy.
  • Suggestions / Concerns: Reviews are an outstanding place to look for optimizations, either in the form of improvements to current products or development of new ones. Consumers are the ones using the product day in and day out, and are idea-generating machines for product enhancements. While some ideas may be isolated, they’re worth investigating and keeping on your radar.
  • Price / Value: It’s no surprise that expectations are closely tied to price. Therefore, when raving or complaining about an experience with a product, price is bound to come up. Learn the root of their expectations and uncover where you’re falling short, meeting, or exceeding them.
  • Competition: No matter what factors consumers are weighing when leaving a product review, they’re likely to compare you to other brands – ones that they buy frequently, have tried a couple of times, or aspire to someday purchase. Uncover how you compare to the rest of the playing field from the consumer’s point of view.

There are many ways for brands to derive valuable information from reviews – starting with just reading them. But the real value comes from aggregating the reviews and distilling them down into key themes and findings that can drive opportunity. Monitoring reviews consistently and over time allows you to see how optimizations, marketing campaigns, and products are being received. Moreover, it will allow you to develop a strong sense of the language that consumers use to describe your products and brand which is invaluable when it comes to education and marketing.

At iModerate, we’ve helped our clients turn their reviews – and those of their competitors – into a powerful insight source through (iM)merge Analytics. We’ve uncovered findings that have bolstered persona building, communication strategies, competitive analysis, and more. The best part? You already have the data. So what are you waiting for?

iModerate Author

iModerate’s online qualitative interviews have been enormously helpful to us during the concept testing phase of research. iModerate provides us with invaluable feedback from a nationally representative group of Americans within a very short time frame. Not only do we get this data quickly, but it is also high quality. iModerate’s moderators are skilled at asking questions that yield useful responses. iModerate reports provide information that’s more than interesting, it’s actionable.

Sara Bamossy, Senior Strategic Planner, Saatchi & Saatchi LA