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Expert reviews remain top of the charts in influencing consumer tech purchasing

Posted by Kat Farminer on 3rd July 2014

With the massive popularity of social media, brands might be forgiven for thinking that big following on Twitter or Facebook is all you need to drive demand for the latest gadget.

As a consumer tech PR specialist, we always advocate a multi-touch campaign to help build awareness and influence consumers to buy, but maintain that there is no substitute for a solid product reviews campaign as the foundation of any product PR activity. Naturally, we have the evidence to back this up – just check out our Why Buy? report.

However, the consumer landscape changes quickly and we wanted to check which channels really hold the key to unlocking our wallets or purses, so we surveyed 2,000 UK consumers to find out who they turn to before buying the latest kit.

Good news for the consumer tech media: nearly half (44%) of all gadget sales are influenced by reading an expert review online and 12% of people are still buying specialist magazines to inform their decision making.

A close second in terms of influence are user reviews on retail websites (39%), followed by advice from friends and family (28%).

But how does this change when you break this down by gender?  Well, it’s clear that women rate the importance of peer advice over our male counterparts, and are much more likely to admit to people that we need help with our decision making. User reviews marginally edged to the top of the influence table for us ladies, and we are also much more likely to talk to friends and family as well as have a chat to shop assistants – see our infographic below for the full breakdown of male vs female stats.

However, the gender gap seems to be closing a bit when it comes to appetite for reading specialist gadget mags and watching the likes of the Gadget Show and BBC Click. 10% of women consult specialist magazines compared to 14% of men, compared to 5% vs 13% respectively in our 2012 research.  Hopefully, this is a trend that will continue with Stuff magazine leading the charge to drop models from their covers to prevent alienating female readers.

So what does all this mean for consumer tech PR programmes? Well, to begin with, it’s all about doing the basics well. No matter how a consumer finds out about your product, they will want to validate their purchasing decision through advice from people they trust.  Expert reviews are key to this and also have massive search engine visibility – which, considering most of us immediately turn to our old friend Google for advice, is pretty critical.

Have a read of our product reviews guide to find out more about how to maximise the impact of your reviews programme.  And only once you’ve nailed this should you move on to stunts, virals or other exciting tactics to build brand awareness.

Kat Farminer