With the rise of new technologies and the growth of mobile usage worldwide, today’s consumers have plenty of tools to research a brand and its products and services before making a purchase decision. With increased opportunities to interact and connect, consumers have become more proactive and their expectations for brands to listen to their voice and meet their needs have risen.
At first, this might look like an overwhelming challenge to brands and retailers, but the shift in consumer behaviour and the rise of new technologies, actually present a massive opportunity for them. By embracing internal technical and cultural changes, as well as adapting to a fully conscious, vocal and engaging consumer, companies will be able to win new customers and stay ahead of the competition. But how can businesses collect customers’ data and cleverly use this to deliver a personalised shopping experience?
By utilising knowledge gained from personal data, such as a customer’s buying history, social media profiles and activities, or past product and/or services reviews, brands and retailers achieve valuable insight into customers’ preferences and are therefore able to provide a more targeted shopping experience, filled with highly relevant product recommendations and promotional offers. So, to entice people to share their personal data, businesses need to offer a value exchange.
By making the customer’s individual preferences central to marketing tactics, brands can encourage loyalty, retention, positive word-of-mouth and acquisition – which will ultimately, all contribute to a positive impact on bottom line! Above all, companies must not forget that a trusted relationship is paramount for consumers to be more willing to share information. Being completely transparent about what data is being collected, how it is being used, and how the consumer will benefit from it, will certainly help to earn consumers’ trust.
Brands and retailers can aggregate consumers’ data and insights in numerous ways, and user reviews have proved to be extremely valuable in collecting information to enable companies to improve their offering and deliver a more customised shopping experience. According to an independent study conducted by Wakefield Research, consumers place a high value on user reviews; precisely 70 per cent of respondents in the U.K. said that they read consumer reviews before making a purchase decision, more than any other content type considered. By collecting and displaying both negative and positive user reviews, businesses are better placed to offer consumers a more tailored experience, while also and most importantly, demonstrating transparency and credibility to gain customers’ trust.
Studies have revealed that consumer reviews online are trusted by about 70% of people, while brand marketing is trusted by just 30%. Accordingly, Bazaarvoice’s latest thought-leadership research shows that the biggest leaps in sales come as a result of the first several reviews on a particular product (Conversation Index Volume 8, 2015). Even if reviewers are not entirely satisfied with a brand’s product overall, they’re still likely to offer recommendations for improvements that can help to guide future iterations of the product, as well as improvements to existing products.
Nowadays, shoppers are able to travel alongside their own community of trusted advisors whom they can consult virtually, and consumer-created content is transcending online, offline and across multiple channels, eliminating barriers in the buying process. If businesses want to know what’s coming and what consumers want next, consumer-created content is what they need to look at.