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5 reasons why consumers leave reviews and how to use that to your advantage

Aktualisiert: 23. Mai 2019

At first glance, you'd think consumers won't gain much benefit from reviewing products or services other than the occasional thankful comment from another virtual consumer-stranger. Yet, the web is filled with hundreds of thousands of consumer reviews. Yelp alone, for example, provides over 100 million user-generated reviews of restaurants, parks and public spaces all around the world. It can’t possibly be all about a pat on the back. So what else motivates consumers to review?

Here are 5 reasons why consumers leave reviews and how you can use that to your marketing advantage:

shutterstock.com/Vasileios Karafillidis

1. Achieving a positive external image

People engage in what is called impression management: they seek an acceptable external image and want to gather positive impressions. Simply put, people share experiences and/or information in order to make themselves look good and, in the long run, increase their status level. In other words: it's all about satisfying our little inner narcist 😉.

How to benefit from it:

For already existing reviews and mentions, give shoutouts to the reviewers. It doesn’t matter if it's a positive or a rather negative review, go for the appreciation to flatter the reviewer for his or her valuable feedback. If you're still lacking reviews to do so, go ahead and throw in some statements or opinions yourself. Trigger people's urge to present themselves and their opinion.

shutterstock.com/Jacob Lund

2. Sending an identity signal

Consumers buy products or services from brands they like. And they tend to like brands that they can identify with or products that help them broadcast their identity to the rest of the world. By buying (or not buying) and then reviewing these products, consumers are stating "Look, these are my values".

How to benefit from it:

Communicate your brand values so that people learn what you stand for and can sympathize with you. You can do so by initially taking a position as a brand on a topic (similar as in advice no. 1: throwing in opinions) or by engaging in already existing discussions. And if you have the guts, you can also try finger-pointing and polarizing, for example by emphasizing the bad values or behaviors of your competitors 😉.

shutterstock.com/SG SHOT

3. Regulating (negative) emotions

Consumers express their experience with a product or service - especially in cases of discontent. They are more likely to share information about the negative aspects of a product or brand, and this kind of negative information will spread faster and to a wider audience than positive buzz. It has also the potential for being a topic for a longer period of time than a good or neutral opinion. The reason: by sharing the negative experience of a product or service, consumers find comfort in the words of sympathizers with similar experiences. Apparently, ranting on the internet does help to cope with emotions!

How to benefit from it:

Receiving a negative customer review isn't bad per se. If you do it right, it's even a great chance to show how much your brand cares. As the negative review will spread, so will your reaction. And if your reaction is convincing (or creative, or funny), your brand image might even benefit from it. Also, having your own moderated platform or at least a well-communicated go-to customer care system will definitely help you keep negative reviews (or even shitstorms) from the blunt public. Instead of randomly ranting on the web, your customers will know where to go to get their issues solved.


4. Solving problems

Most obviously, individuals are sourcing the internet in hope of solving an issue with something they have bought. While during the pre-purchase phase the main goal is to find advice on what, when and where to buy something by asking simple, neutral questions, most post-purchase questions tend to be reviews or at least review-like, á la "Does anybody else have this kind of problem with product xyz?"

How to benefit from it:

Take part in problem solving in regards to your products and services. To do so, you need to know what is being asked about your products. Only if you're monitoring those activities you'll be able to act as a problem solver. Pro tip: don't only be present in reviews about your specific products or services but also engage in general topic-related discussions. For example, as a provider for sports nutrition products give advice about how to use fitness gadgets. That way you'll build up a reputation as an expert and problem-solver.

shutterstock.com/Eugenio Marongiu

5. Belonging to a group

Last but not least, people's trivial instinct to belong and be part of a group motivates to share consumer experiences with peers - to get their approval and identify with them. Think of it as a bunch of people sitting in a circle patting each other’s backs. It looks a bit awkward from a distance, but it feels pretty good when you’re participating.

How to take benefit from it:

Your number one choice should be to build up a community around your brand and products. Give people a place where they can group-up and interact with both like-minded peers and knowledgeable experts (you). If building your own platform is not an option, at least engage in existing communities, e.g. on social media or in specific forums. Either way, you'll benefit from all the other advantages stated above.

To sum up, you need to know what people say about you on the web - their reviews, mentions, and opinions. Only then you will be able to act and react. Make the monitoring of such content one of your top priorities to (re-)gain and/or keep good brand health.

Try to put these recommendations into practice and comment on your experiences. You have something to add? Feel free to leave a comment below as well.

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