The importance of customer reviews to all food and drink brands has never mattered more.
When was the last time you booked a hotel without checking the online reviews first? Trip Advisor and its competitors have become as important to the hotel trade as an AA rosette or tourist board star award. It’s not the only industry where reviews affect sales. Anyone who uses Amazon, and that’s a lot of people, will have read a previous customer review at some point. The importance of these reviews can’t be overplayed. An American study earlier this year by Bright Local reported that 88% of shoppers read reviews of local businesses to determine their quality. The figures involved in the report are startling, it’s clear the customer review carries more clout than ever before.
Earlier this year supermarket chain Waitrose launched a point of sale campaign around products that had received ‘top ratings’ on their website. Following a familiar star rating system products as diverse as asparagus and noodles were promoted in-store using previous customer reviews. This blending of online and in-store shows just how important the big supermarket chains are taking reviews.
There isn’t a brand out there that can afford to ignore the burgeoning customer review industry. It’s been a part of e-commerce for a long time and now it’s moving into in-store shopping too it affects every product.
The influential American writer and speaker, Jay Baer, published ‘Hug Your Haters’ earlier this year. Aimed squarely at anyone selling anything today it really has some great insights. Baer memorably describes modern day customer service as a “spectator sport”, a wonderful phrase that will resonate with anyone who has ever had to deal with disgruntled customers. It’s a book worth reading as it gets to the heart of consumer expectations today (if you don’t want to buy it I’ll lend you a copy, just drop me a message).
So if you’re a producer who relies on others to sell you really need to focus on meeting customer expectations and if you’re also involved in the retail of your product, like so many manufacturers are today, then not only must your product meet customer expectations but your customer service must exceed them. Any brands failing to do both these will, inevitably, suffer at the hands of well-armed customers with twitchy typing fingers.
Keeping abreast of changing consumer patterns and expectations is a part of what we do at Root & Toot. Helping clients understand how they can adapt and prosper in a changing retail landscape is as much a marketing issue as creating a radio commercial or trade press advertisement.
The power of the reviewer is only going to grow, there are already ‘celebrity reviewers’ in some markets, ordinary people who review products for a living and who have garnered a huge following online. But the real danger to your business isn’t a You Tube personality, it’s several ordinary people whose expectations, for whatever reason, haven’t been met. Understanding that and addressing it is the challenge.