Rural Lifestylers and the Influence of Online Reviews

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    12-Nov-2014
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Online chatter does influence our purchase decisions. Just how influential are the opinions of strangers? What about experts? How about our peers? Paulsen Marketing surveyed 500 acreage owners to weigh the importance of online testimonials and reviews.

Transcript of Rural Lifestylers and the Influence of Online Reviews

  • 1. Rural Lifestylers and the Influence of Online Reviews By: Mark Smither and Sara Steever
  • 2. 2 2013 Update: In 2011, Paulsen Marketing conducted a three-month study to better understand how online communities, brand advocates and customer reviews influence the purchase decisions of rural lifestylers. The study involved 13 personal interviews with acreage owners and hobby farmers in the Midwest, as well as 341 completed email surveys of individuals who live in C and D counties throughout the United States. In this study, Paulsen Marketing identified two types of online contributors who have decision-making impact on potential customers: micro and macro influencers. These influencers are often sought out while making purchasing decisions. 2 Background
  • 3. 3 Micro influencers are defined as individuals or peers who share a common interest and are connected in some way through digital media. Social media friends Online communities Shopping sites that contain ratings and reviews Macro influencers are defined as experts or leaders on a particular subject matter. Industry thought leaders Veterinarians and nutritionists Dealers Educators and research leaders Member organizations and trade groups Trusted friends and family One of the key insights from the 2011 study was that 75 percent of rural lifestylers shop for products and make purchases online. Of those who shop online, 99 percent read product reviews. As a follow-up to the 2011 study, Paulsen Marketing decided to revisit the role of micro and macro influencers. If we accept the idea that online reviews are essential to the purchase processand that micro and macro influencers play an important function in this process then it would be interesting to learn exactly how important. Because understanding the level of importance helps us as marketers in deciding how much weight to put behind online communities, social media and online reviews.
  • 4. 4 In February and March of 2013, Paulsen Marketing conducted an online survey of 500 rural acreage owners who had recently made a major purchase for their property. A major purchase is typically categorized as tractors, large equipment, outbuildings, etc. The purpose of this survey was to measure how online reviews and testimonials may have influenced their purchase decisions and to measure the actual influence of peer (micro) and expert (macro) opinions. Overview
  • 5. 5 The survey was conducted using Google Consumer Surveys, which reports on the inferred age and gender of anonymous respondents based on the websites users visit and location based on IP addresses. Income and urban density are then approximated using census data for particular geographic regions. Unlike other online survey platforms, which send questionnaires to predetermined panels, Google Consumer Surveys takes a new approach to survey sampling, data collection and post-stratification weighting. This produces a close approximation to a random sample of the U.S. Internet population and results that are as accurate as probability-based panels. Source: Google Insights The qualifying question to participate in this survey was, Do you live on 10 or more acres of land and have recently made a major purchase for the property? This screening question was presented to 32,284 potential respondents, of which 2,830 (7.8 percent) answered yes. Of those who answered yes, 500 people completed the survey. Methodology
  • 6. 6 Key Findings Q1. To what degree did online reviews or testimonials influence your purchase decision? Rank 1 to 7, with 1 representing least influential and 7 representing most influential. Least influential 1 42.3% Average 1 7 2 7.2% 14.1%3 14.3%Somewhat influential 4 8.2%5 9.1%Most influential 7 2.9 36.4% 4.8%6
  • 7. 7 Key Findings Q1. To what degree did online reviews or testimonials influence your purchase decision? AGES: Least influential 1 42.9% 38.8% 44.4% 2 6.8% 9.9% 5.6% 3 14.8% 14.2% 11.5% Somewhat influential 4 14.6% 16.9% 13.5% 5 8.5% 6.7% 7.1% 6 1.9% 5.1% 6.4% Most influential 7 10.5% 8.4% 11.4% 18 34 35 54 55 +
  • 8. 8 Online reviews are important, but not to everyone. Of those who participated, 42.3 percent ranked online reviews or testimonials as least influential to their purchase decision, 14.3 percent ranked online reviews as somewhat influential and 9.1 percent indicated online reviews as most influential. It would be very easy to look at these percentages and determine that online reviews are not important. However, it would be more accurate to say that online reviews may not be important to some peopleespecially as it relates to a major purchase for a rural property. But when we take an even closer look at these numbers, we see that online reviews actually fall within a wide range of influence across all ages. The cumulative positive ranking (4 + 5 + 6 + 7 = CPR) is 36.4 percent. Observation
  • 9. 9 Do I trust online reviews? I think so because people are going to let you know honestly what they thinkif they had a bad experience or if it was good. Depending on what the reviews say or how they say it, I think they could be planted. I do pay attention, but if theres just one or two I dont necessarily place 100 percent credibility in that. But if theres an overwhelming number of positives or negatives, I do pay attention to that. South Dakota Horse Owner Kansas Cattle Rancher Agri-marketers who want to influence the purchase decisions of rural lifestylers should consider that 36.4 percent of this audience is, to some degree, impacted by online reviews.
  • 10. 10 Key Findings Q2. To what degree did you rely on or trust reviews from individuals like you? Rank 1 to 7, with 1 representing least influential and 7 representing most influential. Least influential 1 24.4% Average 1 7 2 9.1% 8.6%3 26%Somewhat influential 4 12.8%5 12.2%Most influential 7 3.6 58% 7%6
  • 11. 11 Key Findings Q2. To what degree did you rely on or trust reviews from individuals like you? AGES: Least influential 1 25.3% 26.2% 22.2% 2 9.5% 9.2% 9.9% 3 6.5% 9.6% 9.6% Somewhat influential 4 21.2% 32.1% 22.2% 5 15.3% 10.5% 12.7% 6 5.7% 5.2% 8.2% Most influential 7 16.5% 7.3% 15.2% 18 34 35 54 55 +
  • 12. 12 Rural lifestylers trust peers to different degrees. Overall, respondents tend to rely on or trust reviews from people who are like themselves. Of respondents, 24.4 percent ranked online reviews or testimonials from peers as least important to their purchase decision. A larger percentage of the respondents, 26 percent, indicated that online reviews from peers are somewhat important, and 12.2 percent ranked online reviews from peers as the most important. The cumulative positive ranking (4 + 5 + 6 + 7 = CPR) is 58 percent. Where the previous question measured the degree of influence associated with online reviews in general, this question attempts to measure the degree of trust associated with online reviews from peers. This is an important distinction because most people do not like to think or admit they may be influenced by otherseven if they are actively seeking out opinions online. This is human nature. But online reviews from individuals like you hold a greater degree of trust and, therefore, have the potential to be more influential in the purchase process. Observation A positive review about a specific tractoror a helpful comment on a particular piece of equipmentcan carry more weight if it comes from someone with a similar demographic, property size or experience background.
  • 13. 13 Key Findings Q3. To what degree did you rely on or trust reviews from experts? Rank 1 to 7, with 1 representing least influential and 7 representing most influential. Least influential 1 26.5% Average 1 7 2 7.6% 14.4%3 25.4%Somewhat influential 4 10.7%5 8.4%Most influential 7 3.4 51.6% 7.1%6
  • 14. 14 Key Findings Q3. To what degree did you rely on or trust reviews from experts? AGES: Least influential 1 28.3% 25.3% 29.4% 2 5.2% 8.2% 10.2% 3 15.3% 15.3% 10.9% Somewhat influential 4 24.2% 23.9% 23.5% 5 7.6% 12.3% 11.5% 6 8.2% 6.0% 6.2% Most influential 7 11.0% 8.9% 8.4% 18 34 35 54 55 +
  • 15. 15 Rural lifestylers trust experts to about the same degree as peers. It appears as though rural lifestylers rely on or trust online reviews from experts to about the same degree as they rely on or trust reviews from individuals like themselves. Of survey participants, 26.5 percent ranked online reviews or testimonials from experts as least important. 25.4 percent indicated that online reviews from experts are somewhat important, and 8.4 percent ranked online reviews from experts as the most important. The cumulative positive ranking (4 + 5 + 6 + 7 = CPR) is 51.6 percent. Again, we see that approximately on