A Closer Look at Who Influences Our Purchase Decisions

As outlined in a Harvard Business Review article, Amazon has acquired a website called GoodReads.  As the online players continue  to gobble up smaller entities it is interesting to speculate on the strategies behind the acquisitions.  In this case HBR does a good job of describing why Amazon may have acquired GoodReads. The article describes how Amazon consumers will now have access to advice, or opinions, from multiple perspectives.

This is interesting because it touches on how we as consumers make our purchase decisions.  Specifically, it speaks to a few different types of advice, or opinions, that consumers often consider.

Many of us consider and value the opinions of  the masses.  Many sites such as Amazon or larger retailers allow and encourage consumers to provide ratings and comments.  

So it has become easy to get a feel for:  overall demand or interest in the item (# of ratings), satisfaction (avg. star rating), 'likes' of the product, and 'dislikes' as indicated in the comments. Many consumers are also part of online communities that are centered around a particular area of interest or even a brand.  This perspective allows consumers to seek out a deeper level of information from those individuals that may have special expertise concerning a product, or just have similar interests.  These communities can be public or private, and exist for virtually any product category or service.

Finally, consumers also consider feedback from another group of people - friends and family.  With this group there are a lot of issues at play.  To begin with many people like input from those whose opinions they respect or just people who know them best.  Also consumers will often know someone who has the product or service and can give them first hand information.  Also, there is another factor at play, I suspect some people want to test the reaction from people close to them on important purchases. What will the reaction be if I change from a BMW to a minivan?  This type of information can easily be secured via social networks such as Facebook.

From a consumers point of view the advantages of being able to tap into a multitude of opinions and feedback are obvious.  From a brand perspecitive there are also great advantages for companies that make it easier for their consumer advocates to share their opinions among the various opinion channels.


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