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What Brands Can Learn from Consumer Product Ratings & Reviews

A new survey provides crucial insights on how brands can cultivate consumer advocacy for competitive advantage from user-generated contents such as ratings and reviews.


While user-generated content (UGC) that includes ratings and reviews, consumer submitted video, imagery and Q&A content have been shown to be highly effective in maximizing conversions and sales, it is important to understand how do brands go about cultivating consumer advocacy for competitive advantage?

A new research report from PowerReviews data from across more than 1,000 brand and retailer websites highlights how consumers who interact with reviews convert at 115% the rate of those who don’t. The same figures for Q&A content and imagery are 153% and 81% respectively.

While, there are a wide range of theories behind why consumers opt to provide UGC, the survey was conceived to change that. It provides a deep dive into exactly what motivates shoppers to submit all types of User-Generated Content.

Factors that motivate consumers to leave a rating/reviews

Source:  PowerReviews Research 2021

A positive experience earns a product rating and review from more than 9/10 consumers surveyed, and a negative experience will motivate more than three quarters of consumers to share their experience.

Reviewers say overall product experience must be great right from the very first use. An overwhelming majority of consumers (76%) – and 83% of Gen Zers – leave a review within the first week of receiving an item. One-third of consumers say they’d post a review after only using a product one time. Some 56% of Gen Zers submit reviews more than once per month, compared to 47% of Boomers.

Free samples are a critical motivating factor for 86% of respondents, while incentives (reward points, discounts, etc.) are important for 76%. However, reviewers also have a benevolent side; 67% said “helping and guiding others” was a key motivation, and “helping a brand improve a product” was cited by 65%. Younger respondents – 77% of Gen Zers polled – were significantly more motivated to provide reviews for the purpose of helping others than older respondents.

Some 85% of respondents said receiving a product before it’s available to the general public incentivized them to post a product rating and review. Coincidentally, 86% said they would be more likely to submit a rating and review for a product with low review volumes. This may indicate reviewers feel a sense of duty to provide feedback for the betterment of the consumer collective.

Of those surveyed, 77% said a “desire to help and guide others” was the biggest motivator to provide answers to questions posed by other customers online. While “having a positive product experience,” and “having a disappointing product experience,” were the motivations behind 73% and 60% of those polled, respectively.

Free samples and incentives had the greatest influence on posting of images and videos as part of reviews. Younger consumers are more titillated by this prospect — perhaps unsurprising, given the popularity of visually oriented social media platforms such as Instagram and TikTok among this demographic. Some 80% of thrifty Millennials cited free samples as a winning incentive to drive them to post a video with their review. While 40% of Gen Zers said they were motivated by the chance their image might be subsequently shared on a brand’s website.

Incentives leading to review submission

Source:  PowerReviews Research 2021

Consumer Advocacy Strategies and Best Practices

“With an understanding of reviewer motivations, brands can devise winning strategies to win over their advocacy and generate more user engagement and ratings and reviews,” said Andrew Smith, vice president of Marketing for PowerReviews. Smith recommends the following best practices:

Adapt user generated content collection strategies according to age demographics.
Different generations have slightly different preferences and motivations to provide user generated content. Consider tailoring outreach strategies and approaches for greater alignment and improved results.

Send out free samples as a review generation mechanism. This is clearly the most effective method to generate ratings and reviews for a particular product quickly. Encourage consumers to provide imagery and video in their reviews.

Incorporate user generated content throughout marketing initiatives. This creates more buyer confidence, generating more conversions and sales, and influencing customers to submit more ratings and reviews. Target younger demographics to provide video and imagery with contest-style invitations focused on including their content in corporate brand marketing.

Leverage user generated content as a valuable customer feedback source to improve your business.
Above and beyond its obvious conversion power, brands should also leverage the analytics value of this content. It’s a highly valuable form of customer feedback that can drive improvements in products, customer experience, and overall marketing and messaging efforts.

Key takeaways & recommendations
1. Consumers are most likely to provide review content if they are incentivized to do so. Hence, offering a free sample of the product is the single most effective way to generate a ton of fresh UGC.
2. Ultimately, the UGC you generate is a reflection of the quality of your products. However, you should do everything you can to manage expectations up front by educating shoppers with accurate product descriptions and imagery.
3. Not only does the overall experience your product delivers need to be great, it needs to be great from the very first use. The overwhelming majority of consumers leave a review within the first week of receiving the item, often after a single use.
4. Q&A and user-generated video and imagery is extremely impactful in providing buyer confidence and driving sales online. And your ability to generate this content is dictated more by a great experience than ratings and reviews (which, as we explain, relies more on incentives). A best-in-class UGC program will incorporate all these elements.
Therefore, the primary reason you have a UGC program is to create buyer confidence at the moment of truth. But it also includes a goldmine of customer feedback that can significantly help improve your product experience, customer experience and overall marketing and messaging efforts. It is important for brands to make use of this insight to drive your business forward.

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