Last month, MarketingProfs presented the results of some research that showed Gen Y consumers won’t make purchasing decisions without consulting user generated content (UGC). Interestingly, they frequently trust the opinions of strangers over that of family and friends.
Millennials want to hear from friends and family, but when spending money is at issue, the opinions of strangers like them—particularly those with direct experience with the brand, product, or service—have more weight.
When considering purchases, 44% of Millennials are more likely to trust experienced consumers than people they know.
Moreover, 51% of Millennials state that UGC from strangers is more likely to influence their purchase decisions than recommendations from friends, family and colleagues, compared with 34% of Boomers who say the same:
At this point it probably doesn’t come as news that if arts organizations want to reach a younger audience, online sources are going to be a primary source of information for Gen Y.
The article mentions that user generated content is perceived by Gen Y to be fairly reliable and honest in the appraisal of goods and services. It also says that companies that support online feedback are seen as more credible.
Because “86% [of Gen Y] say UGC is generally a good indicator of the quality of a brand, service, or product,” what I would really want to know is how good they, (and really anyone), are at discerning company/competitor generated comments from authentic ones.
That degree of confidence in UGC could embolden a lot of companies to pad their reviews or sabotage their competitors. Since many review sites summarize the number of good and bad reviews a product received or the number of people awarding 5 through 1 stars, if people aren’t thoroughly investigating the ratings, it doesn’t matter if the text of the review is so stilted it is obviously generated by the marketing department. With so many available options, the easiest thing is to discard those with the poorest ratings and invest attention in the better ones.
Fortunately, while reviews on travel review sites, Yelp and Amazon often have their veracity questioned, I haven’t heard of any arts organizations becoming embroiled in attempts to bolster their own image or denigrate another’s. Granted, arts organizations haven’t been the best at leveraging online promotion so online reviews aren’t as relevant for them as other types of businesses. I just don’t see the Metropolitan Museum of Art having their staff making anonymous “Kandinsky, I say Kan-stink-sky” comments about the Museum of Modern Art’s exhibitions any time in the near future.
The fact remains that arts organizations need to be cognizant of the influence online information has and what is being said about their organization online. Sure the people with the most disposable income right now are Baby Boomers and they don’t put as much stock in online content as Gen Y. Everyone is checking product review these days, it is only a matter of time before the practice becomes more prevalent for the older generations.
While not profiled in the study, Gen Xers attitudes certainly fall somewhere between Baby Boomers and Gen Y and they increasingly have disposable income, too. It won’t be prudent to adopt a wait and see approach in respect to monitoring user generated content and providing feedback opportunities.
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