By: Mike Maizel

In the year 2017, the universal omnipresence of online media has become undeniable. From issues such as politics to world humanitarian crises, the world’s media has made the internet a powerful communications vehicle the influence of which can make small voices heard and big change happen.

With regards to the way in which we shop, there has also been a notable shift. The intensity of online marketing that today’s consumer faces compared to the earlier part of the 21st century is palpable. In the early to mid-2000s, shoppers were subject to rather more primitive forms of media advertising such as TV commercials and spammy pop-up banners on webpages, whereas today online marketers have harnessed the internet’s ubiquity in the day-to-day life of the average person to become much more tactical in their efforts to reach consumers. For the consumers themselves, the plus side of this dynamic is that it has also opened up a two-way street for purchaser-vendor communication.

Naturally, new businesses are always looking at ways to help their product stand out among the throngs of competitors in a bid to draw in new customers. In advertising’s formative years, simply telling the consumer why your product was superior to the others on offer would have been enough… until, the internet. Today, consumers play a pivotal and vocal role in the making and breaking of emerging businesses hoping to crack the market, by unleashing their honest opinions on review forums and community sites in a manner that will either support or refute a business’s claims and ultimately influence the decisions of others.

The development of online user reviews

Prior to making an important purchase, consumers use the internet not only as a tool for finding the products they want, but also as a consultation device to ensure that the company they are buying from is trustworthy and that their product is as described. Dedicated consumer review sites such as Trustpilot exist to provide people with a reliable platform to seek advice on products and services, from those with direct experience. So for example, if one consumer purchases something from a vendor who fails to send the item or sends poor quality goods, they can leave a negative review on Trustpilot that will warn off others from making the same mistake.

Of course, user reviews are nothing new – online marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay have been utilizing these trust-based ‘seller rating’ systems for years, but only in a recent shift, has the modern online marketplace actually seen the companies themselves harnessing the power of user reviews to guarantee their product – and encourage sales of it.

One such company that has taken this further step into consumer-led marketing is UK-based mattress and bedding manufacturer Eve Sleep, who claim to have created “the world’s most comfortable mattress”, thanks to feedback received from the thousands of customer reviews received which allowed the emerging business to augment and adjust the product from its launch in 2015 to the present day. Each mattress purchase is backed by a 100-day money back guarantee (in case of any misgivings about the comfort and quality), which has encouraged many consumers to take on a commitment-free trial, safe in the knowledge that the product has been given the thumbs-up by other shoppers and reviews from sleep experts alike. Accordingly, growth has been pleasing for the new business, which has rapidly expanded its reach across Europe and the world in just a short period of time.

The future guidelines for online entrepreneurs looks set to point to adopting a similar course. ‘Open-book traders’ have demonstrated that the power of the once feared keyboard warrior can be realized to shape a product’s development and indeed; it’s success, effectively turning the producer/reviewer power dynamic on its head.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mike Maizel is a regular tech beat reporter and producer for NewsWatch. He loves all things tech, and can regularly be found outdoors in the mountains of Colorado.

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