Millennials Trust Online Reviews More than Others
With the inception of Facebook, Yelp, and Google online reviews are making up a larger and larger percentage of where people turn to for peer reviews. People are becoming more and more involved in their digital world and therefore the opinions of the people that influence their digital world are becoming more important. Not long ago people would ask neighbors or friends for opinions when searching for a certain service or product. Nowadays people are connected through social media with their friends and neighbors. They will see what is posted about services and products whether they are seeking that advice or not.. This can become a perfect way to market your business or your business’ greatest misstep. Not only does this hold true for big brands that are all over social media but this also holds true for local business’ as well. I will go into a recent example of how social media can damage a local store and advantages of social media in a crisis a little further on in this article. And if you are targeting Millennials with your product or service than this advice needs to be heeded since Millennials trust online reviews more than other demographics.
How Many People use online reviews
So you may be wondering at this point, “how do we know how many people actually read those online reviews?” Great Question! In 2016 there was a Pew research study about online reviews to measure this statistic and they broke it down by age, probably to help me write an article just like this one. As it turns out millennials trust online reviews more than most. They came back with what all us marketers suspected, online user reviews account for a lot in how consumers make decisions about a product or service. As it is 82% of adults currently say that they at least sometimes use online customer ratings or reviews before purchasing items for the first time. Now this is just adults not broken down to the millenials demographic yet. Once we drill down to the millennial demo is when things get interesting. 96% of millenials say they at least sometimes use online reviews or ratings before purchasing something for the first time. What is even better is that 53% say they always check reviews or ratings before making their first purchase. That is huge market that always checks reviews!
Why do millennials trust online reviews so much?
When it comes to why millenials are sharing so much and putting so much stock into online reviews it really breaks down to three issues. These three issues are easily solved by sharing reviews and trusting other users reviews.
Millennials trust online reviews so much because they are extremely frugal. No matter how many articles you read to the contrary of this statement that touts millennials as being irresponsible with money that is simply not true. I’ll tell you why they aren’t blowing their money… they don’t have any! The mean income for someone in the millennial age bracket living in North Carolina is just under $19,000. That is not a whole lot of money when you have to take into account their student loan debt and rent. The fact is millenials are very careful where they spend their disposable income, which is why millennials trust online reviews so much. They want to be absolutely sure that if they are going to go spend $25 on a dinner out that it is going to be the best damn $25 dinner in their area. I myself, who is a millennial, have been known to scour ratings and reviews before a night out. I probably spend more time reading reviews than I do actually enjoying my spectacular $25 dinner.
FOMO stand for the Fear of Missing Out. This means that one doesn’t want to be sitting on the couch eating Pringles while their friends went out and ran into Julio Jones (he’s an NFL player for the illustrious Atlanta Falcons). The guy left sitting on the couch will see his friends post on Facebook that they just met Julio Jones at the Pink Pony Lounge and he will be kicking himself that he stayed home and didn’t go out. The way that this translates to millenials using and trusting reviews is that many millenials view their time and energy in exactly the same way they view money. Perhaps their time and energy hold even more value than money, which is why millenials value experiences over material possessions, but I digress. The fact that millenials view their time and energy as currency means that they want to spend it wisely. If they see that their friends just had a great time at a certain restaurant, bar, night club, Top Golf, whatever it may be, they will trust that they would have a good time there as well and will remember this next time they go out. The flip side of this is why millenials share their experiences on social media. They want to show that they are having a great time and living life to it’s fullest. This is validation for their decisions to spend their time, energy, and money on this product/ trip/ concert/ restaurant.
3. Want Purpose
Millenials are constantly being analyzed to see what makes them tick and how to tap into it. One major thing that makes a majority of millenials tick is a sense of purpose. They want to feel that what they are doing matters. However, this is not as cut and dry as you might think. While millenials want purpose it takes a back seat to other higher goals, such as making money. While many millenials express their desire that what they are doing has a purpose on their social media this study shows that deep down they are actually concerned with other items first. What millenials actually want is to FIND their purpose. They aren’t sure what it will be and want to find it. It may just be that helping other locals find the best tapas in town might be fulfilling purpose for them. Now, how this correlates to online reviews is that a great purpose could be helping others find the best X, Y, Z product or service. So they share their opinion and several of these opinions become what people reading these reviews will accept as fact. This explains why many millenials have a fascination with sharing their reviews and rating and put so much effort into these reviews… the are seeking a purpose.
Damage negative reviews can cause
The damage that negative reviews can do to your business are very real. Just because it is online don’t think that it can’t manifest itself in a brick and mortar business. Gone are the days of a separate online and offline world. What happens online will certainly have repercussions at your front door. A few negative reviews may not be the end of your business, but it will create an uphill struggle especially if you are just starting out. Even a well established business can make a misstep and have it blow up in their faces over social media. For example, there was a recent business (Sweet Dixie Kitchen) in California that tried to pass off fast food chicken sandwiches as their own with a mark up of about $13. While this alone is a stupid and ridiculous business practice and the backlash on social media was swift, brutal, and well earned the real issue for this article was the way in which the own handled the fiasco. Instead of immediately apologizing and offering some sort of deal for anyone affected, which I think they later did, they first defended the practice of up-selling fast food products as if they were made in house. This caused several Yelpers to go on a tirade of the unethical, unhealthy, and possibly illegal business practice. And since millennials trust online reviews so much this could have dire consequences for their business. In my opinion all publicity is good publicity and the restaurant had an opportunity to gain a lot of business by taking control of their reviews online and implementing strategies at their restaurant to capitalize on this mistake.
Taking Control of your reviews
Sticking with the example above taking control of your reviews in a situation like this is going to take some out of the box thinking. For the most part coming up with a disgruntled customer approach online before something goes wrong is a good business practice that will make you prepared to deal with a bad review before you ever get one. This way you are not caught off guard and insult the customer, like Sweet Dixie Kitchen did. A creative way to turn around the bad publicity from serving fast food at a high mark up would be to come up with your own original recipe for chicken sandwich, biscuit, and gravy and give it away to anyone that wants it for a weekend free along with an apology printed on the napkins. Since the topic is already trending at the time spreading the word of your apology and this fantastic offer should get your place packed that weekend. Then you hand out loyalty cards to everyone in the place to keep them coming back. An additional thing you can do is use this as a way to create a signature cocktail, sell it at a deep discount that weekend. Perhaps call it “One Sorry Drink.” A clever pun will keep it getting ordered. Now outside of that example and for everyone else that doesn’t have some crisis pending just have a game-plan in place for if someone gives you a bad review of how you will handle it. Will you respond with an apology? Maybe invite them back with a discount so you can make it up to them? Whatever you decide have a policy in place before the Sh*t hits the fan. If you would rather focus on handling your actual business and not worry about your online presence you can hire a company that will manage your social media for you. Check out our rates here for just such a service along with many other additional benefits to make your online presence a success.