Online Product Reviews: Why Both Consumers and Businesses Need Them

By Megan Yu (winner of the 2018 Lodlois Scholarship)

In Disney’s WALL-E movie, obese people slurp their sodas and chew their cuisines, all while relying on automated robots and hover-chairs to make a living in the Axiom starship. Their eyes are consistently on their holographic screens and there is no face-to-face communication whatsoever. The massive dependency on technology that the movie’s community produces is portrayed as an exaggerated version of today’s society. Everyone is drowned in virtuality, rather than reality; even minors have this problem. When I was a young child, there was no such thing as a tablet nor a smartphone in my early generation. However, if we fast forward to about fifteen years later, we do have such things. High-schoolers, and even middle-schoolers, have better phones than their parents. My baby brother knows how to use an iPad to play games, and he’s only five! Instead of face-to-face talking, we use Skype. Instead of strolling outside for a walk, we watch TV. With countless technological advances that have been booming annually, online product reviews written by consumers, critics, and connoisseurs have been increasingly important within the business world. Marketers must use these reviews to adjust their strategies and their product. To establish and maintain strong relationships between company and consumer in the digital age, businesses and consumers should follow a simple, yet effective, acronym that emphasizes the significance of reviews and can aid and enable them to REVIEW online product reviews effectively.

Reputation, Reliability, and Recalls – Online product reviews enhance first impressions and initiate a consumer’s attraction and trust towards a business. If the reputation piece is settled, that’s the first step in establishing the relationship between company and client and generating a greater sense of customer value over time. Building that reputation with positive feedback from consumers can definitely increase business profits. As interactions becomes more and more impersonal, businesses must try harder and harder to keep things personal. They must maintain that reliable, communal feel. Additionally, online product reviews can enumerate past recalls, so that consumers are informed of the model and product they are buying. Last year, Chipotle Mexican Grill announced a recall because their food was linked to the E. coli infection and outbreak in numerous states. Without that prior knowledge from online product reviews, many consumers would still be eating Chipotle at that time, and perhaps fall ill.

Embracement of Positive Feedback – What many name brands have that small business don’t have is that reputation and trust. Thus, less-known businesses should embrace their positive feedback from local consumers. They should utilize it on their websites, social media, advertisements, and emails to build up the needed trust between company and consumer. In fact, according to Shopify Incorporation, approximately three-quarters of reviews are positive and approximately 71% of consumers concurred that having online product reviews “make[s] them more comfortable that they are purchasing the right product or service.” When I was getting prepared for the SAT, I was debating on two tutoring companies: Princeton Review and Kaplan Test Prep. I looked at reviews for both to determine which one was right for me. I ended up choosing Princeton Review because they had higher ratings, and their students increased their SAT scores by hundreds of points.

Verification of Product Authenticity – There are millions of products, so how would you know if what you are buying is real or fake? The thing is, you don’t know. Without online product reviews, consumers could possibly fall into scams or purchase counterfeit items. Those who already bought the item and wrote a review can let consumers know if it is authentic or not. However, it is even worse if the website has no reviews at all. For me, I am obsessed with a Korean boy band named BTS, and their fans are called ARMY. I will be going to their world tour concert in Los Angeles this September, but it’s not complete without their official light stick called Army Bomb. Many unknown companies have sold fake ones, and I had to look at online product reviews to see if the one I was looking at was fake or not. I checked Amazon, but people gave it a low rating and said it was fake. I checked eBay, and people said it was fake. I checked the BTS Official Shop, and it had almost 5 stars and everyone said it was real. Therefore, I ended up buying my Army Bomb from the BTS Official Shop.

Improvement of the Product – Once businesses have read their own online product reviews, they should take into account the negative feedback and constructive criticism and consider enhancing their product. Reviews let businesses know what is wrong, what is disliked, and what is unsatisfactory in their product. It is a way for their customers to express their opinions. By improving the product and making it better, there will most likely be more demand, more profit, and less negativity. Apple releases a new iPhone model every two years, and I’m sure they have examined their product reviews to improve their features, especially with the camera, home button, and operating system.

Experiences Through Another Customer – For the consumer, online product reviews also give the customer a first-hand feel of the product without even purchasing it. They give consumers a chance to step inside the shoes of another consumer who already bought the item. Through the words written, the pictures posted, or the videos visualized, customers are able to experience the product through another customer’s review.

Weighing the Pros and Cons – Online product reviews also allow consumers to weigh the pros and cons of the product. With dozens of companies selling very similar products, reviews make it easy to compare distinct, yet similar, products to make informed decision. Since Apple and Samsung are two competitive technology companies, consumers must consider the pros and cons of both sides to decide which phone, laptop, or other device they want to purchase. For me, I am an Apple person.

This 6-step process will assist businesses and consumers in taking the time to REVIEW online product reviews. In today’s WALL-E-like society, it is essential for humans to utilize these six tips to REVIEW online product reviews in order for consumers to make an informed decision and for businesses to improve their product. As the average human attention span decreases to 8 seconds, maintaining relationships between company and consumer is essential. With society becoming more dependent on technology, may vintage advertisements disappear and may digital marketing and online product reviews rise.