I recently attended a talk by Dan Levine, an expert on consumer trends. He presented five key trends in consumer online behavior. I thought four were really relevant for senior care marketers, and wanted to share them with you.Consumer Trust

First of all, Mr. Levine spoke about the difference between a “fad” and a “trend.” The ALS Ice Bucket challenge last year was a fad. It came, went round and round and round the Internet, and then faded away. That’s a fad.

A trend is different. Not only does it have staying power, but it also manifests itself in many dimensions. For instance, take…

Consumer Trend #1: More Reviews, Less Trust

This trend was the most relevant for senior care marketers. There’s been an explosion of reviews, and review sites, everywhere online. While consumers love reviews and generally find them trustworthy and useful, the proliferation of review sites with varying standards for accuracy and quality is creating too much of a good thing. People are skeptical, especially when they read reviews like this one:

“[Agency name] provides personalized one-on-one service that is unsurpassed in the home service industry. They use the experience gathered over the last 150 years in cooperation with its parent company [name] so you know it’s an organization that can be trusted.”

That’s a real example of a review submitted to Caring.com – however, since it was clearly not written by an actual consumer, our moderation team rejected it. Don’t make a mistake like this! People won’t fall for it. Grammatical errors, misspellings, and colloquialisms – all the things that drive your Corporate Marketing department crazy — are exactly the things that build trust when people read reviews.

Here’s another example from our site:
“[Agency name] has done a good job at sending different caregivers. The caregivers help us with food preparation and light house cleaning for four hours a day. We are pretty happy with them. The management is fine. Their price is not the cheapest, but it’s pretty good.”

Corporate Marketing is choking on that one – but I bet a busy adult daughter seeking care for her mom would trust that review to be honest and truthful.
The thing that really struck me about this trend was how pervasive is the lack of trust in our society today. Whether your political leanings are liberal or conservative, I bet you have less trust in our government institutions now than you did six months ago. I read the latest issue of Advertising Age on the train home last night, and almost every article mentioned breakdown of trust – consumers don’t trust ads, brands don’t trust their ad agencies, no one trusts audience measurement.

Mr. Levine would say that this is why “Less Trust” is a trend, not a fad.

How can we regain the trust of our prospective customers? According to Mr. Levine, the key is transparency.

At Caring.com, it’s really important to us to be transparent and open with consumers and partners, which is why we list all senior care companies, not just those that do business with us, and why our reviews program is managed identically for clients and for non-clients. We’re also looking into how we can increase our own transparency to gain more trust from the 3 million families who visit our website every month.

What would you suggest? How could Caring.com be more transparent to gain consumer trust? How could your organization be more transparent to gain consumer trust? Comment below or send me a private message.

I’ll cover some of the other trends in my next post. In the meantime, if you want more information on best practices regarding consumer reviews, join us for our upcoming webinar on the topic.


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