Reviews aren’t enough for consumers

Advocacy Marketing
Influencer Marketing
Modern Marketing


Aug.27.18

I have four loves in my life. My husband, my son, my dog (most of the time), and my vacuum. And if I’m being honest, sometimes I love my vacuum more than one of the others (I’ll let you guess which one).

It’s the Dyson Cyclone V10 Animal Cordless Vacuum and it has legitimately changed my life.

Once upon a time we had a Shark vacuum. It was heavy, corded, and cumbersome, but it did the job. We bought it with wedding gift money on the recommendation of a friend who said it worked just as well as more expensive vacuums she’s had. And for a time, it was fine.

Then we moved into a new home with plenty of storage space…in the basement…which meant lugging that big, old vacuum up and down the stairs every time it was needed. Which meant it saw a lot less use than previous years. And then we had some big changes. First came Teddy, our dog, but he’s not just any dog, he’s a labrador. With coarse, black fur he loves to shed all over the floors. And I’m not saying he does it on purpose, but every time I vacuum, Teddy wanders into the freshly vacuumed room and starts scratching incessantly, sending that coarse, black fur everywhere. Then came a baby, but not just any baby. An allergy baby. With the type of allergy where even a trace amount of trigger food would land us in a life-threatening situation.

It was time to up the vacuum game.

 

From awareness to consideration

Over time, I took note of this Dyson vacuum in friends’ Instagram stories. They’d be effortlessly vacuuming their wood floors in just minutes, with such ease they could hold a baby on their hip while doing it. I asked my friend Kelsi about it. “Best thing you’ll ever have,” she insisted. I read Amazon reviews, trying to decipher which positive reviews made sense, and which negative reviews seemed legitimate. I even lusted after it while wandering through Bed Bath & Beyond. My coworker Becky’s personal experience with the Dyson was less than glowing: her housekeeper had requested a new vacuum for the house because the intense suction wipes the battery quickly, giving you only about 10 minutes of total vacuum time. After all of this, as luck (or fate) would have it, I received an email from Costco with a special for this vacuum: 100 bucks off!

Not convinced either way (and still wary of the price tag, even with the coupon), I crowdsourced opinions on Facebook. My friends gave me the good, and they gave me the bad, but after thoughtful consideration, I was convinced.recommendations experticity_expertvoice

This vacuum may not be for everyone, but with a smaller house, and a love for a good challenge — I’m a working mom, so I only have about 7 minutes to vacuum anyway! — I decided this vacuum was for me.

 

From reviewed to recommended

Consumers face this issue every day: too many reviews, too many opinions, too many products in general. Amazon’s review problem only adds to the frustration. When considering what to buy, consumers need to feel confident in their choice, and knowing if a review is the right review can be tough. There’s a solution to this problem, however, and it’s called a recommendation. It looks an awful lot like a review, but it goes more deeply into the pros and cons of a product (because, yes, even the best products have people they aren’t meant for).

Let’s take my vacuum purchase. The reviews were spot on. It dies quickly. You have to empty the small dust collector often. It takes forever to charge.

And yet my house is cleaner than it’s ever been.

My crawling kid is no longer covered in Teddy fur. With tiles that seem magnetized to dog hair, the bathroom floor used to be the bane of my existence. Now it’s my favorite thing to clean because I never, ever have to sweep it again. And when my husband cooks with ingredients my son is allergic to, I can quickly run the vacuum over the floors and trust that the baby will be safe to crawl around. And it only takes a few minutes.

There were plenty of people telling me not to buy this vacuum (including my husband, because the thing was ridiculously expensive). There are aspects of it that are extremely inconvenient. But because I had more than just reviews — because I had recommendations that included both why it would be life-changing and why it could also be a hassle, I balanced out both sides, and eventually considered it a worthwhile investment for my family.

Unfortunately neither just a 1-star or a 5-star review accompanied by a single sentence could have given me the confidence to buy this vacuum, but a personalized recommendation absolutely did.

reviews recommendatiions_experticity_expertvoice

Now that I’ve convinced you to buy this vacuum, I’ll bring it back to the title of this blog post. What do consumers want from reviews? It’s a trick question because, regardless of how they describe it, consumers typically don’t want just a review of how the product worked for you. What they want — and technically need — is a recommendation on why the product could be a good fit for them. In order to buy confidently, they need to know what works, what doesn’t work, why it worked, why it didn’t work, and whether or not the review fits with their personal needs. The best reviews aren’t simply reviews; they’re recommendations.

 

Giving consumers confidence

I’m not alone in this. Consumers love to look at review sites, but there’s a reason 70% of consumers use at least 3 channels when researching a purchase: Multiple sources increase odds of confirming whether or not a product is the right one for your needs.

But in my experience, certain opinions are more valuable than others. The recommendation from my friend Amelia whose house size and floor types match mine was significantly more meaningful than a stranger’s whose chief complaint is this vacuum doesn’t work for their gigantic, carpeted house.

So how do we provide meaningful recommendations for consumers looking to buy something? We get advocates on our side. Friends and family, but also category pros and retail sales associates — the people consumers trust when looking for an honest, personalized recommendation.

When all was said and done, and I’d made up my mind, I spoke with a sales associate at Bed Bath & Beyond, and her expert advice solidified my choice. She gave me tips on how to help the vacuum run better, how to maximize the battery life, and even little hacks, like how I could use an attachment to clean the crumbs out of my baby’s carseat. I’m telling you: life changing. And to think I could have let a few poorly written Amazon reviews stand in my way.

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