The wise philosopher Epictetus wrote in the second century:
Men are agitated and upset, not by things, but by the opinions they have of things.
And this is still true today; indeed, perhaps today it is truer than ever. The expansion of the world of online commerce, the birth of user communities, communication between consumers via social networks have helped to bring out a very important trend in the field of web research. This is the “review market”, which today is an important part of the research carried out on the web.
Indeed, reviews on the web are a powerful weapon: they help users and even companies. Let’s see how they can be used by those who manage an e-commerce or offer products for sale, regardless of the channel.
It will have happened at least once to everyone: before buying a product on the web you go to look for the reviews of those who have already bought or tried it, to get an idea of the possible advantages and disadvantages. In particular, the greater the expected expenditure, the greater the search for information on the good in question.
This trend is so important that in the last five years many websites and portals have been created that collect the texts where users write what they think of the products they use every day; and this applies as much to vacuum cleaners, televisions, and drills as to foodstuffs: today reviews are written on almost every product on sale, with some merchandise sectors attracting more than others. The cosmetic sector, for example, can move the ideas and comments of many users; the foodstuffs move several reviews and stimulate conversations through the sharing of tricks and recipes; consumer electronics is another sector that stimulates many conversations.
The Cluetrain Manifesto (a set of 95 theses dedicated to companies in the interconnected market) argued, in its first point, that markets are conversations. And this is precisely what makes opinions written by web users so important. If it is true that more and more users are looking for the reviews of other consumers on the net, to get ideas on the products they need or want to buy, then it is also true that companies must look at the possibility of exploiting them as a communication channel to consumers.
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