Is the 21st Century Consumer, Research Obsessed?!

Imagine going to a restaurant or booking a holiday without checking reviews and scouring websites beforehand. Sounds like a foreign concept to us in this day and age. Well, that used to be the reality! I remember my Dad telling me about a time when he booked a holiday to Corfu, only to turn up and see the hotel was nothing like what it looked in the brochure.

 The hotel looked like a quaint, family-run hotel when in reality the hotel grounds smelt like sewers; the coach never came to pick my parents up and wild dogs roamed the hotel for food in the morning! Fast forward 30 years and that hotel on TripAdvisor would be plastered with bad reviews, dire ratings and those awful pictures of suspiciously small hairs on the bed sheets. It is safe to say that my Dad is incredibly grateful for the internet now and his experience has definitely turned him into a “Research Obsessive”. If you are unaware of what that is, I’m sure someone will come to mind when I explain. 

A “Research Obsessive” is someone who will always find every scrap of information before doing anything. Whether that is choosing a meal in a restaurant; booking a tour for a holiday or even buying a new pair of trousers.

The “Research Obsessive” will make sure they have read multiple reviews, asked their Facebook friends and checked a blogger’s recommendation before making any decisions. 

However, it is not a bad thing. I would call myself a “Research Obsessive” to be honest with you. 99% of the time I know exactly what 3 courses I am going to order before I even step foot into a restaurant. I do not doubt that many people would agree considering mobile searches for “menus” has increased by 55% over the past 2 years. The Digital Revolution has provided us with a “Tyranny of Choice,” as described by the Deloitte Consumer Review, 2014. With a plethora of options for food, holidays, clothing, shoes, homeware and many more, consumers want to be satisfied with the idea that they chose the best option and haven’t wasted their money. A staggering 81% of consumers conduct online research before making a purchase and...

61% of consumers will read reviews on the products they desire.

This has led to the surge in popularity of independent review websites such as Reevoo and TripAdvisor, the latter being worth over $4 billion! 

So why are 21st Century consumers research-mad? According to a Think with Google article, it is usually one of three things. First, it helps to build excitement. Researching weeks or months before an event creates a lot of anticipation and makes consumers more eager for the experience as they are aware of how much they are going to enjoy it. Secondly, it gives consumers confidence. Getting clued up about prices, directions and attractions will definitely reduce anxiety and stress levels, particularly when you are venturing into a new country. This is the main reason why the term “wait times” has grown in mobile searches by 120% over the past couple of years because consumers want to be confident that they are making the most of their time. Lastly, it generally helps to create the best experience possible. By planning in advance, it ensures that consumers avoid that dreaded feeling of regret you experience after you miss out on something good. 

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However, with all the positives that arise from conducting research, it takes away one thing…spontaneity. The thrill of the unknown and sense of adventure is completely lost by knowing everything. Although preparation is exciting, there is something incredibly satisfying about going somewhere on a whim and having the best time. You feel a sense of happiness that you have good instincts and can gauge when something is enjoyable without knowing anything about it. Take backpackers for example. They pack a bag, book a plane ticket and see where their journey takes them. It builds adrenaline and they might even stumble across something amazing that they wouldn’t have found if they knew the exact route to go. Yet, “Research Obsessives” no longer feel this satisfaction as the concept of spontaneity is completely alien to them. Their satisfaction comes from having schedules, directions and pre-booked tickets!

Consumers are not the only ones to benefit from conducting research. Businesses who have good online reviews or positive recommendations from bloggers benefit from free marketing. A survey conducted by TripAdvisor found that: “Nearly 90% of travellers say reviews are influential in choosing where to book” (TripAdvisor, 2014)
 

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Referring back to the story from the beginning, my Dad is definitely in that 90% of travellers and gives his custom to businesses with the best reviews. It was found in the Deloitte Consumer Review, 2014 that consumers trust review websites just as much as a family/friend recommendations. This proves how important it is in the 21st Century for businesses to actively ensure they provide customers with a positive experience, as the key to growing your business in this day and age is to look favourable in the eyes of the “Research Obsessive”.

Researching is a luxury we are lucky to have. Whether you’re a consumer or a business owner, the internet has provided us with a wealth of resources to help you make the most out of your life.

 

So, the next time you feel like you’re doing too much searching and scouring of the web...you are certainly not the only one! The key is making sense of it and using your research correctly! Take a look at the research we completed for a childrenswear company when they were looking to break into a new market - here!