The Purchase Make or Break Power of Consumer Commentary

It’s no secret consumers rely on each other for making purchase decisions.

People have been doing it since the beginning, and they’re certainly not going to stop anytime soon. The bottom line is, when a person raves about a product or rants against it, others within their social circles are sure to listen, which should be enough of a reason for marketers to listen as well.

People are louder and vocal more often than ever before.

Online reviews, tweets, videos, posts and photos allow immediate product and service feedback, which enables consumers to produce what can potentially become the equivalent of a Super Bowl ad over the course of time for or against a brand. And they’re exercising their power more often than ever.

Last week, eMarketer posted an article stating that 27 percent of consumers under 25 and 20 percent of consumers over 25 check/update Facebook or Twitter sometimes when they wake up at night.

Think about that! Fifteen years ago, this was impossible to do without ticking off all of your friends by calling in the middle of the night. Now consumers are connected 24/7.

Online consumer behavior has real world implications.

What is said online impacts a business’ bottom line. The information about a brand, whether it’s true, official, approved and sourced or not, affects the thoughts and opinions of potential customers. More often than not, they research online before going into the marketplace, or they use mobile devices to do their research at a checkout counter. This research might include a brand Web site, but consumer thoughts and opinions are in the mix as well and most likely, hold more power.

All of this is a fundamental shift in the way business is done where there is an expectation and preference (for many) for online consumer-generated information to be taken into account before a wallet opens.

Brands need to pay attention…now.

Consumer habits have changed, and technology will see to it that it happens again. Brands should, at the very least, find out what their customers are saying online, now.

Consumers have discovered the value that unfiltered commentary from their peers has, and if consumers find value in it, marketers need to realize what online conversation can bring to their businesses.

To do this, marketers should listen and ask themselves, “Are we on the same page as our customers?” Answering that question is among the first steps to creating a robust social media strategy.