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Study: Negative Reviews Grow More Powerful
Written by Sarah Mahoney
Negative consumer reviews online are becoming increasingly important to would-be buyers, according to a new study, with 80% of consumers saying they have changed their mind about a purchase after reading a thumbs-down report.
That's up from 67% last, according to the new 2011 Online Influence Trend Tracker from Cone Inc., a Boston-based public relations and marketing communications agency.
"Negative information is now just as powerful as positive information," Mike Hollywood, Cone's director of new media, tells Marketing Daily. "For marketers, that means that leaving your head in the sand and just letting people make negative comments isn't working any longer. Reaching out and trying to make the consumer experience better, even if you can't solve the problem, is important."
The good news is that word-of-mouth for positive reviews has swayed 87% of shoppers, confirming their decision to purchase. And nearly 90% say they find online channels a trustworthy source for product and service reviews.
The study also finds that the pricier the purchase, the more likely shoppers are to do extra digging, with people saying they are nearly 25% more likely to verify recommendations for high-cost purchases, such as cars, than they were in 2010. And 59% say they are more likely to research products or services online because they can easily access applications on their cell phones.
The survey, which is based on responses from just over 1,000 adults, finds that shoppers are doing homework well beyond reading user reviews and comments on e-commerce sites, and are 50% more likely now than they were last year to search for articles and blog recommendations (42% in 2011 vs. 28% in 2010).
An important trend, says Hollywood, is that consumers are becoming increasingly savvy about sorting out which reviews are more important, and a credible-sounding negative review from someone willing to leave their name, for example, makes a bigger impact than a cranky anonymous consumer.
"Consumers do have the ability to sniff out who might have an ulterior motive. They are definitely giving more credence to their trustworthy sources, often valuing the opinion of bloggers and reviewers more than mainstream media," he says. "Marketers can use that to their advantage by targeting the bloggers and commenters in their industry that have, or will soon have, that level of credibility."
What is YOUR opinion on the impact of negative reviews on a car dealership's sales and service business?
I still haven't seen a dealer rating/review site that was properly categorized and executed. Most appear to be geared toward advertising...again. Seems like some dealers get obliterated and others are above reproach (it goes much deeper than that). I usually say go with mainstream rating sites like Yelp, Google Places, Yahoo Local and so on. However, I still believe that the online shopper, surfer, customer or 3rd baseman has a B.S. detector (even the Government would envy) that can sift through the "negative" reviews to get a gut feeling as to where they should do business. So I say, negative reviews are just a part of the game. The real solutions lie in properly designed and executed rating sites. I have yet to see that in a dealer rating site. Once again, most lack Imagination and Intelligence. At times, dealers feel they suffer from these sites, when its really the rating site's poor design and execution. Many come across as bad communication. The ultimate dealer rating site is yet to be designed for the consumer. Key ingredients are still missing (that is why consumers are looking elsewhere).
Just Do It Right (with better Rating Sites),
This was a really interesting reply to me. I'm trying to follow your train of thought but I wanted to ask for some clarification. I get to talk to dealers all day about this and I've never heard anybody take this angle before...
There are plenty of review sites out there. What ingredients do you feel are lacking? When you say "The real solutions lie in properly designed and executed rating sites," are you talking about solutions for the dealer? When you say "At times, dealers feel they suffer from these sites, when its really the rating site's poor design and execution," Can you give a specific example?
What would an imaginative and intelligent design look like?
An interesting topic, which I have followed for a while now and several of my primary opinions mirror what others have already stated. In that, CSI surveys and those who access that information for reporting can potentially be less than credible or accurate for several reasons.
Answering many survey questions with choices on a 1 - 10 scale does not provide enough accurate dealer experience analysis. In addition, those who skew the data collected or why they attempt to interpret below the surface any given scoring is unacceptable.
Detailed positive and negative reviews (specific to department) are very important for the dealer to learn and improve. I recently spoke with a woman who had a relatively positive experience in the service department, but upon arriving home she actually shopped parts prices online and her opinion and review of that entire dealership went from a 9 to a 1 in a heartbeat. She discovered that she had been charged $93.00 for an $18.00 plastic trim part (silly parts department) and the entire CSI for that survey went down the tubes.
There is growing amount of information for the growing number of consumers who care to research satisfaction scoring and a much larger number of those are researching Blogs, Twitter and Facebook comments. The consumer is applying more emphasis on independent sources of information and this may not bode well for the manufacturer, the dealer or the media especially if they may have already attained a poor reputation. Even worse are those who have been caught skewing customer survey information to reflect a more positive reputation.