The singular power of the online review: Perceptions and preferences—and brand opportunities

by | Mar 7, 2023 | Public Relations

Comms pros are aware of the power of the online review in driving brand interest and sales, but new research from reputation management and brand intelligence firm Chatmeter suggests that reviews might be more influential than you thought—and may in fact offer brands the best opportunity of all to cut through the noise in today’s marketplace.

At a time when enterprise CMOs and marketing leaders are taking a hard look at what will drive ROI and developing strategies for growth in increasingly competitive markets and a tightening economy, the online review stands alone in its ability to impact the bottom line, asserts the firm’s new report, How Do Consumers Show Brand Love?, which highlights how online reviews offer uniquely tremendous potential for brands.

The findings point to key areas of opportunity for brand leverage:

  • Brand love and loyalty through a two-way dialogue with consumers
  • Brand trust through online review engagement, volume, and authenticity
  • Brand innovation through channel and technology usage trends
  • Brand intelligence through deep listening across customer feedback
  • Brand growth through competitive intelligence

The research also looks at consumer behavior and perceptions across four vertical industries: retail, restaurant, healthcare, and financial services—and reveal that consumers have significantly different expectations and requirements across industries, and trust of online reviews varies greatly.

The singular power of the online review: Perceptions and preferences—and brand opportunities

Additional key findings include:

Reviews are part of everyday decision-making

Over 89 percent of respondents use online reviews to evaluate quality, and over 67 percent see it as an important part of deciding what to buy and want specific details such as pricing, features, options, and quality.

  • Financial review sites have work to do: Only 34 percent of respondents trust them
  • Restaurant reviewsare the most trusted (69 percent)

Review timeliness is important

More than 56 percent of respondents feel that reviews need to be posted within the past month to be trusted as relevant; only 6 percent believe that when a review is posted doesn’t matter.

Review quantity matters

One quarter (25 percent) of respondents want to see more than 20 reviews in the prior two months in order to build trust and have influence; another 20 percent want to see at least 11 reviews.

Consumers like new tech

Thirty-nine percent of respondents like the idea of using technology like ChatGPT for review information, and more than 30 percent of respondents like the idea of brand reviews through an engaging metaverse experience.

New channels are emerging

Almost 13 percent of respondents use gaming platforms like Roblox, or games like Fortnite, for reviews, and more than 20 percent use chat tools.

The singular power of the online review: Perceptions and preferences—and brand opportunities

“Consumers see online reviews as a two-way dialogue. This study reinforces that reviews are a golden opportunity for brands to strengthen their customer relationships,” said Cynthia Sener, president, Go-to-Market at Chatmeter, in a news release. “Consumers want to engage and want to do so across a multitude of platforms. It’s critical for marketers to arm themselves with technology that can optimize both solicited and unsolicited customer feedback. Consumer preferences and habits are evolving, but the right tools can help translate the data into a direct competitive advantage.”

It’s estimated that 80-90 percent of the world’s data is unstructured—unorganized chatter dispersed across emails, social media, online reviews, images, photos, chats, messages and more. One of the most powerful things a brand can do for its reputation and profit margins is filter through this content and be responsive. When asked “how can brands can build better relationships with customers through online reviews,” 58 percent of respondents say that companies should acknowledge comments and fix problems quickly. Furthermore, 76 percent said they would go back and update a negative review if a company satisfied their complaint.

The singular power of the online review: Perceptions and preferences—and brand opportunities

Download the full report here.

The survey was conducted in January 2023, included 1,369 consumers, all of whom have used a review to help in the decision-making process and 94.5% of whom have posted a review in the last 12 months. 

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