Peer Reviews and Consumer Behavior


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Here is something which corroborates my thoughts on Opinion Leaders and CGM and The era of the empowered consumers
A report published at about Online Buyers scouring for deals

The findings of the report include-

1. More and more online buyers are turning to peer-reviews for product related advice, before adopting a product.

“When asked to note their most trusted information source, sixty per cent of online buyers said consumer reviews compared to 31 per cent who said newspapers or magazines.”

2.Large no. of online buyers indulge in comparison shopping and use social networking sites to do so.

3.Online buyers are early adopters of social networking such as writing or reading blogs, customer reviews, and community websites. They’re more likely to share their opinions and give reviews online than people who shop the old-fashioned way.

4.As social netwroking sites abound with users, they will be areas of most potential for e-commerce.

5.Embracing advertising in the web’s community sites appears to be very promising for marketers.

Hope the heads of the organisations (The customer was king….)hesitant to adopt CGM as a promotional tool are listening!!!!

Vandana Ahuja, PhD.
Amity Business School
Dr. Vandana Ahuja has over 21 years of experience across the corporate sector and academia. She is the author of the book on Digital Marketing - published by Oxford University Press. She is a Professor with Amity Business School and has several years of research experience across the domains of Digital Marketing, CRM and Social Media Marketing. She is an expert in the usage of Digital and Social Media platforms across diverse industry verticals.


  1. Vandana,

    You are right—heads of organizations better be doing more than listening—they need a plan.

    Customers see online content as a way to help themselves make more informed decisions—no just about products, but also about companies. Increasingly customers want to build relationships with companies who are genuinely interested in helping customers adapt to the uncertainty and complexity of a fast-paced world. That doesn’t mean they won’t do business with companies who don’t establish trusting and credible relationship, they will just treat them as commodity brokers and make purchases based on the best trade-off between price and convenience. In essence, they will scrimp with the commodity broker to be able to splurge with companies that offer them true relationship value.

    Businesses need to become part of the online conversation if they want to establish their credibility and gain customer trust.

    John I. Todor, Ph.D.

  2. Vandana, John

    It is rapidly becoming common knowledge that social media (as a catch-all tool for the things Vandana writes about) is a key driver of customer purchasing behaviour, particularly in the information gathering phase.

    But I would dispute John’s suggestion that “customers want to build relationships with companies “. The research I have seen suggests that the vast majority of customers do not want anything similar to what we all accept as constituting a ‘real relationship’ with companies. Instead, they want good quality products, at competitive prices, available through their channels of choice, just when they need them. Companies that do this consistently get rewarded with further patronage and may even go on to develop strong brands. But that is light years away from a real relationship.

    Social media is still in the discovery phase. Far better to wait and see how it develops than to load it down with all the relational baggage of yesterday’s CRM.

    Graham Hill
    Independent CRM Consultant
    Interim CRM Manager

  3. Graham and Vandana,

    Sounds like we all agree that ‘social media’ is a key driver of customer behavior these days. But, I don’t think companies should take a wait and see attitude. Customers are doing in at an increasing rate and they don’t have to ask permission.

    Graham, you argue that customer want good quality products, at a competitive prices etc. I partially agree with that statement. Before I elaborate here the position taken by the overwhelming majorities of senior executives interviewed in a recent Economist Intelligence Unit study.

    In this environment (today’s business climate) the enterprise interested in winning, retaining and deepening customer relationships can no longer do so simply by creating a better product or even by hold down costs. For many companies, both strategies are essential simply to stay in the game. Increasingly, executives are finding that the winning differentiator is no longer the product or price, but the level of engagement—the degree to which a company succeeds in creating intimate long-term relationships with the customer or external stakeholder.

    …engagement refers to the creation of a deeper, more meaningful connection between the company and the customer, and one that endures over time. Engagement is also seen as a way to create customer interaction and participation.

    Over 90% of these executives said that customer relationships are very or extremely important to the success of their businesses.

    How does this all tie together and relate to what customers want? There is no doubt that customers want what you describe surrounding the product and purchase process. All of these contribute to greater utility and lead to a means-to-an-end. In a world of abundance, overwhelming choice and hyper-competition, customers buying for “utility” are most often based on the best trade-off between price and convenience with indifference to company and brand.

    But, human beings don’t just want their wants fulfilled—they desire experiences that add meaning and value to their lives, including learning how to thrive in a changing world. And, for experiences to be meaningful they need to emotionally or psychologically engage customers.
    This might be seen as psycho-babble by an ex-academic business strategist, but I am not along in singing this for of customer experience mantra. Perhaps as importantly, there are numerous case studies and reports that demonstrate this approach does lead to customer relationships customer want.

    Trusting and credible relationships simplify things for customers in an increasingly complex world.

    John I. Todor, Ph.D.

  4. I tend to agree with John here, that the key differentiator influencing purchase decision is the level of engagement, not the price or product. The value of product features and pricing cannot be disregarded at all, but engagement definitely adds a measure of trust to the buying environment and the payoff yielded by this engagement eventually is increased purchase intention.

    Besides, why would consumers not be interested in building relationships with the companies?
    studies reveal that in the case of the B2C category, emotional associations create a comfort,familiarity and convenience, leading to purchase decisions and in the B2B category, consumers want to partner with businesses that are reliable, fair, consistent, and cooperative-the key outcomes of relationship building.


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