A New Emplifi study sheds light on the rising demand for brand authenticity throughout the buyer’s journey with 71% of online shoppers agreeing that “authentic” positive customer ratings/reviews make a real difference in purchasing decisions.
Emplifi, the leading unified customer engagement platform, has released “Meeting the Demands of the Modern Customer: A Deep Dive Into The Importance of Social Influence,” a new study in collaboration with Harris Interactive offering insights into the power of ratings and reviews on purchasing behaviors. The findings cover a wide scope of areas from time spent researching products to preferences for user-generated content (UGC) which all map to the rising demand for brand authenticity. After surveying more than 2,000 U.S. and UK consumers, Emplifi’s findings demonstrate how important it is for brands to have a solid customer review strategy to improve customer loyalty and enhance the overall shopping experience.
Customers Want User-Generated Content
Emplifi discovered that not all reviews are equal in the eyes of the customer. According to the study, 87% of consumers said that real-life customer reviews/ratings have a greater impact on purchasing decisions compared to influencer/celebrity reviews (50%). More than half of the consumers surveyed (58%) place a high value on product pictures or videos posted by real-life customers when researching products online. When researching products online, customer reviews/ratings are the most influential factor in purchasing decisions – outranking price, return policy, and shipping costs.
“There’s no better way to demonstrate brand authenticity than by putting organic customer experiences front and center. Brands that are already leveraging UGC are seeing measurable results. The key is to make this content easily accessible on your product pages so customers can conduct their research right on your website without having to visit other sites to find authentic customer reviews. Celebrity testimonials are costly and, ironically, don’t have the same impact as content from a real-life customer which is great news for brands. Marketers are able to maximize their budget by doubling down on content customers are creating free of charge that significantly impacts purchasing decisions,” said Chief of Strategy Kyle Wong.
Product Research Trends: Shoppers Visit Multiple Websites Before Making a Purchasing Decision
Emplifi found that product research plays an enormous role in the buyer’s journey with almost all (95%) consumers researching products priced $5-20 on one or more sites. Marketplaces are the most commonly sought-after information source for products priced on the lower end of the spectrum ranging from $5-20. However, search engines are most frequently used for product research when it comes to items priced more than $100.
“Customers are willing to invest time in researching products of all prices. With inflation and a looming recession, we can expect shoppers to be even more discerning with their money and the items they are purchasing. Brands should be mindful of this shift and employ an omnichannel approach, leveraging product reviews and information on the brand website, marketplace product listings, YouTube videos, blog posts, and any other channel popular with their audience. The modern consumer is savvy and willing to visit several websites to feel confident about their purchase,” said Wong.
The Generational Pull: Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z Purchasing Habits
Regarding product research, there are no distinct differences between Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z consumers. The majority of each generational category tend to visit one to two websites before making a purchase of $5-20, investing up to 15 minutes in the research. Naturally, the number of websites visited to research a product goes up with the cost of the item. Across generations, online shoppers had similar behaviors when making high-end purchases in the range of $20-100 with 25% collectively willing to visit 20+ web pages to acquire more information or knowledge about a product.
“Brands often think of generations in silos when developing marketing campaigns. It’s a strategic tactic to personalize your messaging. But when it comes to ratings, reviews, and product information, all generations want the same thing: authentic content from real-life customers,” said Wong. “This makes it even more essential for brands to encourage their customers to leave reviews and feedback. With more than half of online shoppers stating that they will not purchase from a brand without checking ratings or reviews first, brands need to ensure they have a steady supply or risk missing out on revenue.”