Online customer reviews in 35mm perspective


I went to see a brilliant musical show in London on Friday night at the Pleasance in Islington.  Its called 35mm and I really enjoyed it.  More of the show later, but I learned an unexpected lesson from two of the stars of the show – Niall and Rosie – I learned the true impact of a review and I got, first hand, a good insight into how a singer thinks about customer service.

Reviews are a phenomena that has really grown in the last few years, and it is an activity that shows no sign of diminishing in volume or impact.  Only the other day I was reminded by Amazon that I had not yet reviewed a Jazz album I had recently purchased …Amazon are just one retailer that recognises the importance of these reviews.  Think about your research when booking hotels … I imagine, like me, you check out the reviews first !

Lets look at some stats:

  • The marketing research website Emarketer reports that in the US 3 out of 4 people (Sept 2012) buying an electronics product read reviews as a key part of their research prior to decision making.  There is some interesting divergence of views when it comes to professional reviews … more of that later …  but that is a massive percentage.
  • Why should Amazon encourage me to place reviews … well there is plenty of evidence that this increases uptake.  In September 2011 Bazaarvoice were reporting that order values of people who have read reviews of their intended purchase have a 6% higher average order value (Sept 2011) and at the same time customer satisfaction is reported to be higher with the purchase – plus 11% according to eMarketer.
  • The killer stat for me though is that the 2012 Local Consumer Review Survey shows a positive shift in the trust and appreciation of on ine reviews … 72% of consumers said that they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

So it seems fairly clear .. If you read a good review, you are more likely to visit or buy, and you will be likely to get a higher level of satisfaction.

To the show then… I loved it, it was unusual in construct and it featured some great songs and some excellent performances from two of its young stars, Niall Rooney and Rosie Ward.  It has been a success off Broadway and Ryan Scott Oliver who wrote the musical has set his songs and music to a series of 15 Photographs.  I really enjoyed the show it balances some tender songs – especially Seraph – with some amusing and fun songs and some really emotional ‘belters’.  All backed up by a seriously funky band (which reminded me of George Clinton at the end and which I am now streaming as I write).

The conversation with Rosie and Niall after the show though was very insightful.  They were both concerned primarily about customer service  “..did you enjoy the show?” this is clearly one thing that drives them as performers; ensuring that their paying audience have enjoyed the show and had a great night.  That focus is brilliant, it must be very exposing to perform so close to your customers … you really can see the whites of their eyes from the stage I imagine.

The second thing that concerns them is their reviews.  This is both personal and practical.  The personal desire of all of us to satisfy our ego, to be reassured we are good at what we do, but they very directly recognise the impact of critical reviews of their work on ticket sales and the length of the run they will have in the theatre.  Its an independent affirmation of their talent and in the success of the production.

They both had a real focus on it, they are self critical anyway (neither need worry in my opinion) but the direct nature of what they do and the history and tradition of theatre reviews give them a focus that as a Marketer I find really interesting.

Retailers like Amazon clearly understand, but I’d argue that the producers of the service or product, should perhaps start thinking about how their review scores are built into 21st Century KPIs and marketing dashboards, that may be a bit radical … but the stats I referenced earlier seem to support a need to consider how they are used to better positive effect by Marketers.  Theatre critics are professionals and the research by eMarketer suggests they carry less weight than consumer reviews (not in theatre reviews I suspect however) and I think if Marketers can find a way of exploiting this consumer trend better it could give their brands a powerful low cost credible boost.

Go see the show if you are in London, I hope you will enjoy it as much as my friends and I did.


3 February 2013

Useful links:

Theatre Link – the Pleasance, Islington

Niall Rooney

Rosie Ward

Emarketer website

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2 thoughts on “Online customer reviews in 35mm perspective

  1. Mary says:

    I wonder if we’d all be brave enough to ask and whether we’d like to hear the responses?

    • Retailers are leading the way already. I understand Argos sell more products with a review than those without … Even when the review is negative.

      Confidence required I think it’s true to say !

      Thanks for commenting

      See you soon


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