The power of reviews in the transparency economy

Catching up with Theresa O’Neil, SVP Marketing, PowerReviews.

We had the opportunity to catch up with Theresa O’Neil, SVP marketing, PowerReviews after meeting her at Chicago Social Media Week where she spoke about the power of reviews.

Tell us a little something about yourself and PowerReviews?
I worked in enterprise B2B software and later started my own marketing consulting company. I met Matt Moog—CEO of PowerReviews—as he was about to relaunch the company in 2014. I love what I do, which ranges from our go-to-market approach, to working with ecommerce executives from large and small companies. Our mission at PowerReviews is to unify and amplify the voice of the consumer throughout their journey, across all channels, to help consumers make better purchase decisions. In turn that helps companies drive sales and improve products and services.

What are three things a CPG company should consider?
First of all, make reviews part of your launch plans. Consumer packaged goods companies lead in new product development. But they need to ensure they have review coverage, not only on their own sites, but also a network of review sites and the retailers that carry their products. I’m seeing more companies include a reward—which could be loyalty points, a sample or sweepstakes entry—for a consumer review. That really works.

Secondly, use real consumer reviews in your ad strategy. When consumers see others like themselves using the product, that brings in an element of trust and likeness. A company that does this really well is Duluth Trading Co. (Duluth’s men’s longtail short sleeve tshirt has 7,300 reviews). A study by Northwestern University found that even with a high price in a low price category, a review can significantly increase the impact on that item.

Lastly, I’m seeing more in-store activity. Look at Amazon’s physical store, Amazon Books, in Seattle. Reviews play a huge part in their promotion. Packaged goods companies can make their products stand out with a star system or scan to a new page with feedback. More reviews are being read and written on mobile devices.

How can companies use reviews effectively?
When used the right way, reviews can increase traffic (organic and paid) and conversions, and uplift sales. In fact, one of our clients uses reviews to update their product description and web content. Another retailer improved the clasp of their watch and saw an increase in sales and also improved the shopping experience. Even negative reviews lead to new product ideas.

Seems like the theme is around transparency in the industry?
Absolutely. Consumers expect to have the full information from manufacturers, retailers, providers, especially what other people think. From hotels to restaurants and taxis. But now people expect reviews on the site itself instead of going to a third party site.

Is there a category reviews don’t touch?
Not for long! Reviews enable new businesses like Uber and Airbnb. Reviews are essential for big ticket investments, e.g. a vacation, electronics, and home and garden, but we’re also seeing rapid growth in CPG and consumer health. Part of this growth is being driven by our ability to syndicate reviews from manufacturer sites to a large network of retailers. That’s very impactful, especially for small niche CPG companies. Increase in online purchases—think Peapod, Amazon Pantry—have made reviews a core part of the purchase cycle.

So, what’s the future of reviews?
Reviews have become part of the experience, occurring real time, with continuous updating. Look how Netflix customizes your experience based on your reviews. We see reviews on all products, services, sellers and experiences, across the entire consumer journey. By unifying and amplifying the voice of the consumer, consumers make better decisions and businesses drive additional sales of better products and services.

"By unifying and amplifying the voice of the consumer, consumers make better decisions and businesses drive additional sales of better products and services."