“Think ‘transparency’ is an established, maturing theme? You ain’t seen nothing yet.”
That was the opening of the latest Trendwatching briefing, titled “Transparency Triumph: Reviews are the New Advertising.” Obviously this report got our attention… plus Bazaarvoice and our clients were mentioned 5 times in the report, to our delight!
Trendwatching is viewed by 160,000 marketing professionals across 180 countries. I’ve paid close attention to this report for years, as their trends are always backed up by real-world examples that show how they reached their conclusions.
Trendwatching has covered the “consumers-are-empowered-and-transparency-rules-so-companies-are-opening-up” topic for a while. But this one brings it home because these are trends we experience as ‘consumers’ (lacking a better word), and macro trends any executive should understand.
We live and breathe this every day. When we started the company we pondered, we knew that reviews (and more broadly, user generated content) would rule the marketing landscape. We have asserted that the brands that win are the ones whose UGC is higher volume (word of mouth), better quality, and more amplified. Great UGC isn’t something you can buy (don’t ever pay for reviews). It is something you have to INVITE and facilitate. It starts now, and the sooner you start, the higher the net present value of your new marketing strategy.
We’ve compiled some cliffnotes on the report, below. These notes are just the tip of the iceberg – the report has a wealth of real-world examples illustrating these points. I strongly recommend you share this report with your executive team.
- We have more choices than ever (paradox of choice), and therefore more need for trusted advice. This “forever need” is now being met through user-generated content. As Nielsen reported, 70% of people trust online opinions from unknown users.
- Businesses must accept it: reviewing is the new advertising. Consumer decision-making process has shifted to a new, powerful P2P arena.
- There are 1.6billion people online today, and the next billion are on the horizon. For the future web population, contributing and sharing is a given, and reviews will be a way of life forever.
- Consumers are increasingly enticed to review and share. Services like Bazaarvoice’s ShoutIT and Social Network Accelerators lets users share their reviews through FB, Twitter, and other social media.
- Reviews form a cycle of trust and contribution. As more reviews are submitted, the quantity neutralizes fake reviews. Reviews become more trusted, and therefore utilized more often, encouraging even more submission of reviews. And the cycle continues.
Trends to watch
- Everything reviewed – reviews will infiltrate every industry and vertical, from retail and manufacturing to financial services and pharmaceuticals.
- Real time reviews – sheer quantity of reviews will lead to daily or even hourly reviews for every product, service, and topic. Increased connectivity through netbooks and mobile will lead to real-time reviewing. Text, picture & video reviews will become increasingly available as they happen.
- Reviews by location – increased availability of information relevant to location available through mobile.
- Reviewer relevancy – profiles finding reviewers “like me” help shoppers discover the best products for their needs.
- Right of Reply – brands should respond to reviews, even when they’re not on their own site. The easiest way to get Right of Reply is to ask for reviews on your own site. Guaranteed opportunity to openly and publicly react to negative reviews that would have cropped up elsewhere outside your control.
- Transparency Triumph – bad reviews are not the problem, they’re a symptom. There’s always an opportunity to solve the issue and delight an unhappy customer.
We couldn’t agree more. Plug Warning: There’s a lot of Bazaarvoice investment along these lines. To learn how we’re progressing in all of these areas, ask to see our roadmap.