I had the opportunity to speak with Zac Carman of ConsumerAffairs about the site's forthcoming study, set to be published this month on their blog. The consumer advocacy group and online review platform examined which states are most likely to review or complain about businesses and brands. A preview of their new infographic highlights which states are the most vocal using a heat map.
Is your state in the red?
The Complain-Tastic Top 5, with a Few Choice Examples
5th Place: New Jersey
New Jersey reviewers have no interest in engaging other readers: they go right for the throat, throwing shade and calling out brands in front of the entire Internet.
4th and 3rd: Nevada and Delaware
Nevada reviewers keep it short and (not at all) sweet.
Meanwhile, Delaware reviewers ask us to ponder some of life's biggest questions.
Tied For 1st: Florida and Washington D.C.
With colorful descriptors, thorough coverage, and aggressive capitalizations, this Florida reviewer allows to really feel his frustration and disgust.
Think he should just slow his roll and wait for the cleaning catastrophe to come to a close? Think again -- he's already tried it.
But Where's New York?
In a shocking twist, New York, widely considered the rudest state in America, only made it to number 12 on the complainer countdown. When asked for comment on this surprising twist, New Yorkers responded, "We don't care, and we'd like you to get lost now."
New York is more than a city. It's a birthright. It's an attitude. It's a language of it's own.
— Little Bastard Boy (@Al_Patron) November 2, 2014
Can Reviews Make or Break Businesses?
I asked Carman about his company's research process, and whether or not the results were a surprise. "Each month, about 100,000 consumers come to our website to write complaints and reviews. One day we got the idea to see how these conversations varied from state to state," he explains. "We analyzed the most recent 238,239 reviews we'd received from consumers in the U.S."
"Initially, I was surprised to see states that I'd think would be 'complainers' lower on the list, like New York," Carman recalls. "But as I reflected on the demographic composition of the U.S., the data began to make sense."
Carman claims negative or positive reviews can seriously impact the prospects for businesses. "Brands spend billions of dollars researching the hearts and minds of consumers, and billions more trying to persuade them into a specific buying behavior using sophisticated marketing," he says. "An Econsultancy study confirmed that consumers trust the opinions (read: review) of other consumers more than marketing and even more than an expert endorsement."
A new Harvard Business Review study concurs: a one-star rating increase can help restaurants to boost revenue by between five and nine percent. And Carman believes negative reviews and positive mentions can massively influence brand perception. "Negative reviews, especially when not addressed, can directly impact the bottom line," he says. "ShareThis CEO Kurt Abrahamson told me that recommendations have more of an impact than brand name or price. Highly positive reviews online can generate almost a 10 percent increase in purchase intent, and negative reviews can also have a correspondingly negative impact, reducing purchase intent by 11 percent."
The forthcoming ConsumerAffairs study reveals the true power of the consumer voice in the modern marketplace. To all you New Jerseyans, Nevadians, Washingtonians, and Floridians: keep whining -- it's working!