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Consumer reviews influence purchase decisions

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Posted by Jenny Liu, Sr. Account Planner CPG New York

A recent study by Deloitte's Consumer Products group showed that 62 percent of consumers read online product reviews by other consumers. More than eight in 10 say their purchase decisions have been directly influenced by the reviews, and seven in 10 of those who read reviews share them with friends, family or colleagues, thus amplifying their impact.

A few years ago, if someone said "product review", cars and electronics would have come to mind. But today, product reviews cross all categories, including CPG. Part of that has to do with how many different product selections are on the shelf these days. Lotion can no longer just moisturize; it may prevent aging, be long lasting, environmentally sound, and aromatherapeutic. Toothpaste no longer only keeps teeth clean; it should whiten, cater to sensitive teeth, and help strengthen the enamel all at the same time. Children's snacks must be trans-fat-free, wholesome, nutritious, and support healthy eating habits. The "asks" people have for their brands are growing in number and complexity year after year.

Then, when the brands don't perform as expected, buyers may feel disappointed or betrayed. Online product review sites and blogs are among the first places they feel they can vent, or they may feel a duty to warn others. On the flip side, when a brand exceeds expectations, consumers are elated and can't wait to be the first to share a recommendation about their new finds.

This use of online space as a platform for personal opinion about products is an illustration of how consumers are becoming increasingly empowered. An opportunity exists for CPG marketers to capitalize on this new reality as a marketing vehicle, or even as a way to collect research and product performance feedback.