Consumers today are faced with a huge selection of product alternatives and an even larger collection of details on these products. There are many ways to rank or rate products. Customers can leave stars for those products they have bought. Writers can review and rate those products within their topic area. A more real and populist method is to review how well products are doing in the market. While aggressive advertising may initially launch sales, in the age of the Internet a success and a failure are equally hard to hide. Needless to say, a significant population of purchasers force a company to focus assets on a product.
In the age of Internet and mobile social media, word of a disappointing product gets out almost instantly. In turn, when many consumers buy a given product and the buzz remains positive, that product has survived the sometimes brutal social media litmus test. Any consumer with a decent following on his or her social tools should place fear and accountability in the hearts of manufacturers and retail outlets. A simple twitter on a cell phone could start a landslide.
A significant user base also encourages a manufacturer’s support of a product. To maintain positive branding and ensure additional purchases of other products, the manufacturer has a built-in incentive to provide a rewarding customer experience. The effort and expense of reselling or upselling to a current customer is almost always less than the effort and expense of engaging a new customer. Likewise the risks of a disappointed and upset population of customers leads directly to negative word of mouth and economic losses.
A large user base strengthens a manufacturer’s commitment to a product over time. The consumer can be confident that years down the road support and add-ons will still be available. No matter how much critics love a new offering to the market, companies are going to allocate support dollars to those items that give the greatest return in customer satisfaction and dollars: in other words, to those with top sales.
Product ratings and reviews do play a major role in making purchasing decisions. However, they should be taken in consideration of how consumers are voting with their dollars. It is desirable to be in front of the curve on a product, but not too far ahead of others. Sales rank provides a good first tier filter in a product search. Once the consumer has a manageable group of similar products, other consumer resources can be applied for a final decision. This will ensure that the best product will be backed with support for the immediate future and years down the road.