When Jonney Shih, the chairman of Asus, put forward his idea of selling laptops under the company’s own name instead of through its contracted partners, not many gave him much chance. Practically speaking, the detractors of his vision were not outright wrong.
Compared to household names like Dell, HP, and Apple, the idea of getting consumers used to Asus seemed daunting. But just like every visionary and self-believing leader, he continued on. in 2007 an Asus-branded product, the Eee PC, got stellar reviews and became a smash hit. When 2012 arrived, Asus was the world’s fifth-best-selling brand of PC, and have since climbed to fourth place. Of course, it proved that Jonney Shih’s conviction was spot-on.
But there was much more to this story that manufacturers must read. First, it underlines that the term “brand” is overrated and people care more about the product itself rather than the brand. The importance of the brand name is on the verge of extinction. The decline of Nokia, once a classic case study of brand loyalty, can be easily looked through this prism.
Second, public opinions have an almost immeasurable impact in shaping a purchase choice of countless people. But, the real point is to understand how exactly product reviews for manufacturers help in reaching the highest peak of the sales funnel and what has made reviews the most powerful atom of the business nucleus.
Until now, more or less, the buying choice of customers was heavily influenced by their past experiences, preferences and communication from retailers. Due to the latter part, ads were considered the de facto instruments in capturing customers’ attention.
But with the mushrooming of social media platforms, other review sites and discussion forums, the availability of expert as well as general opinions became a new normal. Clearly, it placed the buyer in a position where he can take a well informed buying decision after evaluating all the essential elements of the products. The simple reason behind this is that it clarifies the picture for customer about what he will get from the product.
This is the status quo that makes product reviews for manufacturers (as well as retailers) a necessity.
Studies commissioned by Google have found that shoppers consult 10.4 sources of information, on average, before making a purchase. Consumer reviews are significantly more trusted (nearly 12 times more) than descriptions that come from manufacturers. Now, these two data points paint the grim but real picture of the fact that people don’t take manufacturer’s product descriptions as the complete and total truth.
No manufacturer will bring to the surface the negative aspect of his product…but honest reviewers will. And that’s what makes reviews really addictive! Besides, the fakeness of ads is so unchallengeable that they have been dead for long, as far as evoking any amount of authenticity is concerned. They have no more significance than creating over-the-top-brand- awareness. Ads may get attention…but they can’t assure conversion. Because while buying, people enter into an analytical mode; especially if the purchase is costly and requires a long term commitment. That’s precisely why the weight of trusted reviews usually overrides any residual effect of fleeting exposure to an ad.
There is no doubt about the value and insight of market research. But that doesn’t take away the fact that it dwells in the past of customers. Each and every expensive survey hinges upon the past behavior of the customers and their past preferences. And more or less, manufactures decide their new product range based on that. But manufacturers are the creators of new things…and thus they must have a more nimble, forward-looking way of getting customer insights. If they believe that this is the product that is going to make this world a whole different place, they must pour everything into it.
Remember that a market research study conducted in early 2007—before the release of the first iPhone—concluded that U.S. consumers are not yet ready for a device that combines the functionality of a cell phone, an MP3 player, and a camera. But we know how big a game changer the iPhone proved in the end. The study had measured P, i.e, preference, but as soon as the iPhone hit the market and early adopters began gushing over it, people became influenced by the O factor- opinions of people.
I think this example is an ideal template to the thought that if your product has something in it, reviews can take it to unbelievable heights!
The worth of reviews grows when they reach out beyond just your website. Obviously, the single channel approach is helpful on its own, but you can also distribute your review content to your retail partners through syndication.
Apart from pure visibility through syndication, product reviews for manufacturers are also helpful in getting good SEO results. Through reviews, manufacturer’s website will get fresh content on a regular basis. If recent development of most of the search engine algorithms is concerned, it’s quite obvious that they value fresh and original content. It’s a simple part of this domino effect: More reviews? More visibility? More traffic? More chances of conversion.
When you have extremely positive reviews and shoppers are searching or asking around for certain types of products, your name will be more and more likely to come up–just as with the case of Asus.
Understand that 30% of U.S. consumers say they begin their online purchase research by going to Amazon for product information and reviews. Voracious research before buying any home appliance or commodity has become deeply ingrained in many consumers. For manufacturers, thus, it’s a must that favorable reviews of their products should meet retailers as well as end customers in their research and buying journey.