A recent study by omnichannel marketing promotions firm YA shows that consumers expend considerable effort researching their durable goods purchases. Retailers struggle with generating these user reviews, but the report offers new insights into incentivizing them.

Durable goods are items that yield utility over time, such as a washing machine or computer, as opposed to items designed for immediate consumption.

The survey of adult Americans found that 43 percent turn to online ratings and reviews first when researching options, and another 19 percent rely on word of mouth via family and friends. “Any brand or product manager will tell you ratings, reviews and referrals are an important part of a customer-focused marketing strategy,” said Dan Ribolzi, YA sales vice president for manufacturing clients, in a news release. “Our research confirms this and reinforces the need to make this a priority. More importantly, it also offers insights into driving such third-party product evangelization.”

How to generate more user reviews

When asked about incentives, 86 percent of respondents indicated they would write a product review in exchange for a gift card, and 72 percent would participate in a refer-a-friend program if both they and their friend were rewarded.

Rebates were another strategy identified by the survey as impacting durable goods purchases, with three of four respondents indicating they would submit a rebate form “most” or “all” of the time. “The rebate—whether offered instantly or post-purchase, awarded virtually or in card form—continues to be a strong promotional lever,” Ribolzi added. “In fact, when offered the choice between a $50 rebate or an extended warranty valued at $75, 60 percent preferred the $50 rebate. Cash can be a strong motivator, and on a more expensive purchase the savings can help justify the buy.”

Finally, customer loyalty drives not only third-party endorsements, but also repeat purchases. When happy with a previous durable goods purchase, 84 percent of respondents said they would repurchase the product when the original wore out without researching or comparing competing products. “Though a great product is the key to this satisfaction,” Ribolzi explains, “there are tools marketers can use to ensure expectations are met and customers are enjoying their product throughout its entire lifecycle.”

Online reviews sway consumer behavior—three ways to get them

Ribolzi believes the survey points to the importance of authentic customer engagement in effective marketing initiatives. “Ensuring a customer is happy with their product and creating a valuable dialogue before, during and after the sale can often pay off in repeat business and a customer that becomes an advocate,” he said. “Our jobs as marketers are to not only ensure customers are satisfied with our products, but to also enable dialogue and create a construct for ratings, reviews, and referrals that bring a marketplace clout to the brand.”

YA commissioned the online survey of more than 1,000 U.S. adults in Fall 2017.

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