Reach for the Stars: The Power of the Online Review

As I began writing this, I wondered if reviews influenced my purchases. Thinking back over the past week I have read reviews on restaurants, films, make up brushes, clothing and some tech gadgets that I have no idea about. I did this without even realising it.

As online retail pr shopping is so widely available, people are savvier than ever when it comes to parting with their cash. Consumers are relying on reviews as their safety net before investing in a product. But why do we care so much about what a stranger thinks?

While picking reviews apart, we can decide whether this person thinks the same as us and if they are concerned about the same things as we are. Sometimes, people’s negatives don’t influence us at all. For example, while reading a review for a three star hotel in Spain on TripAdvisor, I noticed a woman had given a rather low score due to the fact someone else’s children had worn trainers to dinner in the restaurant. I always wanted to find that woman and ask her just how that had impacted the taste of her meal but unfortunately I couldn’t contact her. Maybe she was off leaving other insightful reviews elsewhere!

Some reviews, like that just mentioned,  just make you roll your eyes, but the local consumer review survey 2016 by Bright Local showed that 88% of people trust online retail pr reviews as much as personal recommendation and that 91% of consumers regularly or occasionally read online retail pr reviews.

As well as anonymous reviews, another motivating force of persuasion is the rise of influencing bloggers and vloggers. The growth in popularity of blogs has created a new platform for consumer engagement. These new age celebrities are seen as more trustworthy, relatable and charming than your run of the mill celeb who we all know was paid to promote the service or product in their photo. Maybe we see bloggers as one of us? Maybe we think they will tell us if those hair growth tablets really aren’t working? Or that believe it or not, there is no magic diet tea that will make you drop a dress size.

Although helpful, reviews can be tricky. More and more I see comments on the bottom of Amazon reviews stating ‘I was given this product to review but this no way influenced my opinion’. This immediately puts me off. It’s almost as if this disclaimer tarnishes the whole review. I guess this is, however, a better alternative however to being sucked in by a ‘fake’ review.

Fake reviews are used by some hoping to push sales through five star reviews. Consumers are sometimes offered discounts or money in turn for writing a glowing review on their product. These are quite hard to spot, as the consumer has gone through the purchase process and left what seems to be an honest review. However, Amazon has successfully sued over 1,000 people in the past year for posting fake reviews.  It’s happening on all the big review sites and they want to let people know it won’t be tolerated.

As reviews seem to be the new word of mouth, people’s thoughts and feelings about a product or service are now written in ink for the world to see, a mere google away. A stranger’s opinion online is now the equivalent of your best mate telling you about a new restaurant or a work colleague ranting about the awful service they received.

So if you’re a business, get your customers writing those honest reviews – good and bad, honesty will always be appreciated and viewed as genuine.  If you’re a customer, be kind and open minded.

And if all else fails, check the returns policy!

Our consumer lifestyle digital PR team specialise in connecting everyday brands with everyday people across four core sectors; Consumer Lifestyle PR, Food & Drink PR, Consumer Technology PR and Sport, Health & Wellbeing PR. More information on these areas of knowledge can be found at