The psychology behind consumer advocacy: New study delves inside the mind of reviewers

by | Feb 2, 2021 | Public Relations

Consumer reviews can be the authentic touch a brand needs to credibly engage customers and prospects—or it seems like, with just a few disgruntled users, they can be the rock that drags the whole brand down. New research from customer product ratings and reviews generator PowerReviews explores how brands can go about cultivating consumer advocacy for competitive advantage.

User-generated content—ratings and reviews, and consumer submitted video, imagery and Q&A content—has been shown to be highly effective in maximizing conversions and sales, but what motivates consumers to provide ratings and reviews, and who are the most inclined to do so?

The firm conducted a survey of over 10,000 consumers to uncover the psychology and motivations behind product reviewers across four generations—Boomers, Gen Xers, Millennials and Gen Zers. Key findings include:

The highs and lows

A positive experience earns a product rating and review from more than 9 of every 10 consumers surveyed, and a negative experience will motivate more than three quarters of consumers to share their experience.

First impressions must delight from Day One

Reviewers say overall product experience must be great right from the very first use. An overwhelming majority of consumers (76 percent)—and 83 percent of Gen Zers—leave a review within the first week of receiving an item. One-third of consumers say they’d post a review after only using a product one time.

Younger reviewers are more prolific

Some 56 percent of Gen Zers submit reviews more than once per month, compared to 47 percent of Boomers.

Free samples and fraternity

Free samples are a critical motivating factor for 86percentof respondents, while incentives (reward points, discounts, etc.) are important for 76percent. However, reviewers also have a benevolent side; 67percentsaid “helping and guiding others” was a key motivation, and “helping a brand improve a product” was cited by 65percent. Younger respondent—77percentof Gen Zers polled—were significantly more motivated to provide reviews for the purpose of helping others than older respondents.

The lure of exclusivity and the sense of duty

Some 85percentof respondents said receiving a product before it’s available to the general public incentivized them to post a product rating and review. Coincidentally, 86percentsaid they would be more likely to submit a rating and review for a product with low review volumes. This may indicate reviewers feel a sense of duty to provide feedback for the betterment of the consumer collective.

Motivations to respond to queries

Of those surveyed, 77percentsaid a “desire to help and guide others” was the biggest motivator to provide answers to questions posed by other customers online. While “having a positive product experience,” and “having a disappointing product experience,” were the motivations behind 73percentand 60percentof those polled, respectively.

Rich media value propositions

Free samples and incentives had the greatest influence on posting of images and videos as part of reviews. Younger consumers are more titillated by this prospect—perhaps unsurprising, given the popularity of visually oriented social media platforms such as Instagram and TikTok among this demographic. Some 80 percent of thrifty Millennials cited free samples as a winning incentive to drive them to post a video with their review. While 40 percent of Gen Zers said they were motivated by the chance their image might be subsequently shared on a brand’s website.

Consumer advocacy strategies and best practices

“With an understanding of reviewer motivations, brands can devise winning strategies to win over their advocacy and generate more user engagement and ratings and reviews,” said Andrew Smith, vice president of Marketing for PowerReviews, in a news release.

Smith recommends the following best practices:

  • Adapt user generated content collection strategies according to age demographics

Different generations have slightly different preferences and motivations to provide user generated content. Consider tailoring outreach strategies and approaches for greater alignment and improved results.

  • Send out free samples as a review generation mechanism

This is clearly the most effective method to generate ratings and reviews for a particular product quickly. Encourage consumers to provide imagery and video in their reviews.

  • Incorporate user generated content throughout marketing initiatives

This creates more buyer confidence, generating more conversions and sales, and influencing customers to submit more ratings and reviews. Target younger demographics to provide video and imagery with contest-style invitations focused on including their content in corporate brand marketing.

  • Leverage user generated content as a valuable customer feedback source to improve your business

Above and beyond its obvious conversion power, brands should also leverage the analytics value of this content. It’s a highly valuable form of customer feedback that can drive improvements in products, customer experience, and overall marketing and messaging efforts.

View full survey results here.

The PowerReviews survey draws on responses from 10,486 active shoppers across the United States who have opted in to offers and discounts from retailers. The online survey took place in October 2020. Throughout the survey, they defined Boomers as born in the years 1946 to 1964 (aged 56-74 on Dec 31, 2020), Gen X as born in the years 1965 to 1980 (aged 40-55 on Dec 31, 2020), Millennials as born between 1981-1996 (aged 23-38 on Dec 31, 2020) and Gen Zers born in or after 1997 (ages 22 and younger on Dec 31, 2020).

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter


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