Internet Reviews: A Grain of Salt, or a Kilo?IB
Happy Monday everyone -- hope you all at least had "some" time off this past weekend to enjoy.
So I like to buy reasonably expensive jeans: 7 For All Mankind, Adriano, Rock and Republic, etc. Unfortunately, I am only 5'10'', and as some of you may know, these jeans come in a standardized length, with usually a 34'' inseam. That's much too long for me, and if I'm gonna spend $150 on a pair of jeans, I'm not going roll them up and look like a dunce, so I get them tailored every time.
There are a lot of really bad tailors out there, and since I've been moving around a lot recently, I've had to find a new tailor for jeans (among other things) every year or so. The tailor I'm currently using is absolutely the best I've ever worked with, and it was no surprise that she has absolutely stellar Yelp! and Google reviews...
From BI: "When it comes to swaying consumers, nothing beats word of mouth. That’s because, 92 percent of people trust recommendations from friends and family above all other forms of advertising when making a purchase decision, according to a new study. That number was up nearly 20 percent from 2007."
The era of tons of free information about anything, especially consumer products and services, seems to have really empowered consumers and facilitated greater degrees of competition.
Personally, I use Yelp!, Google reviews, and Amazon reviews religiously before making any sort of purchasing decision. I want to make sure I'm getting the best service, or that I'm buying the best product on the market in my target price range. I'm also someone who almost never watches television, so the main advertising avenue that reaches me is by way of the internet, where advertising is _more_ targeted and _less_ "in your face" as it would be on television.
This leads me to reading internet reviews of products all the time, and when I make the decision to purchase something or use a particular service, I always wonder how in this day and age a company or product can survive after its reputation has been marred by negative online reviews (or even in the absence of reviews).
Think about it: when was the last time you bought a product on Amazon where upon scrolling to the bottom of the page, you see "No one has reviewed this product yet, be the first"? I can't think of such a time, nor can I think of purchasing a product that had below 4 of 5 stars (there could be exceptions...books about politics come to mind, for example, but that's more of a qualitative review anyhow). In reality, products with 3.5 stars might be totally fine -- hell, they might be better than 4-star products, but in many cases, a mediocre aggregated review rating is more than enough to convince me that I should be looking elsewhere.
This is true of many things -- if a movie has a weak MetaCritic score, I probably won't watch it, etc etc etc.
But there are problems with this approach, the glaring one being that people who have positive experiences with products and services are far less likely to voice their opinions than those who have negative experiences. Amazon and Yelp! have tried to counteract this phenomenon by creating some incentives for reviews, thereby increasing the flow of positive reviews instead of strictly negative ones, but I feel that the bias toward the negative in internet reviews is still a problem.
What do you guys think? How likely is it that an internet review affects your purchasing decision? How can businesses in particular who do not maintain a following on Yelp or Google survive in this era? Word of mouth is becoming a far less common method of transmitting information since most of us spend the majority of our waking hours on the net.
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