It’s Official, Your Friends and Family Trust Strangers More Than You

by nessel on August 31, 2011

Strangers We Trust

Yes your friends and family nod politely and smile at all the right times when you are telling them about some product they need to get.  Your friends and family may even follow your sage recommendation and go online looking to buy the latest gadget you rave about.  But really, if “@joeblow”  the anonymous reviewer online says the gizmo is not all that, who do you expect them to believe?  Of course, they will go with @joeblow!

Cone Survey Finds 80% of Consumers Reverse Purchase Decisions Based on Negative Online Reviews

Read that headline again. we are not saying that 80% of people don’t buy something after reading a bad product review – that is not news.  Reverse is the key word here.  Yes, according to the Cone  2011 Online Influence Trend Tracker study, 80% of people, who were planning on buying a product based on a friend or family recommendation, will change their mind if they read negative reviews online. Translation: “Friends, Family – I love you, but I got to roll with the negative, anonymous strangers online when it comes to product recommendations.

We Do Product Reviews and We Find This Study Scary

At Dad Does we do brutally honest product reviews, so you would think we would be thrilled with all the influence the

Cone study says we have.  We have to admit, on one level it does feel good to know we have more pull than your dear Aunt Sally, but there is something clearly wrong with this picture as well.

In the World of Online Reviews, Things are Rarely Black and White

The Cone study finds that 89% of consumers say they find online channels trustworthy sources for product and service reviews. Really?  I guess our question is – what is an online channel?  The National Enquirer and Consumer Reports are both online channels, but I would hope there is a different trust level for each one (everyone knows Consumer Reports is a tabloid rag online).  We would hope that our decision not to sell or in any way profit from the products we review would put us in a better light than sites that make money each time you buy what they recommend.

The problem is, it can be very hard online to tell a real, relevant and honest review from a paid, influenced or biased review.   We love the fact that people are turning to online sources to find product reviews, but people need to do their due diligence before trusting an online source more than family and friends.

There have been countless news stories about bogus reviews or cases where companies hired people to post negative reviews about their competitors.   We have seen endless 1 star reviews on Amazon that start with “I have not bought this product yet, but….”  Really?  Yes, if you see countless negative reviews from many different, trusted, online sources, your friend is probably crazy and it makes sense to reverse your purchase decision.  However, it should take a great deal to override the honest advice of friends.

It does not surprise us to learn that 87% of consumers state a favorable review has confirmed their decision to purchase.  A friend turns you onto a product, your online search finds others love it, so you buy it.  In this case the online world is just supporting what your friend said.  However, when someone you know and trust gives you a recommendation, but 4 times out of 5 when you find some stranger online that contradicts your friend’s advice, you go with the stranger…that is odd.

As an insider to this industry, we leave you with this thought – some online sources can be driven by motives that do not align with providing objective information.  Unless you have some really cruel friends and family, their motives are bound to be more pure.

More Information:

Read the Cone Study on Online Influence 2011

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