Rachel Arndt
Rachel Arndt is a Marketing Intelligence director. Drawing on marketing intelligence data, she delivers custom insights by uncovering how brands are marketing—and what they should be doing to move their strategies forward.

Online reviews are deal-makers and deal-breakers. While marketing is important, customers end up doing a lot of marketing on a brand’s behalf every time they leave a review. So, when planning a brand strategy, marketers should ask themselves: Do we want to talk about what our customers are already talking about, or do we want to introduce new ways to describe our products? Can we do both?

You can start to find the answers by looking at the intersection of marketing and customer reviews. There’s bound to be an overlap between how the brand and customers are talking about the products. It’s in that overlap—or lack thereof—that you can identify opportunities for guiding how consumers talk about your products.

By combining Mintel Consulting’s Marketing Intelligence capabilities with Mintel eCommerce Intelligence, you can do just that. While Marketing Intelligence allows you to dig into how brands are marketing, Mintel eCommerce Intelligence allows you to explore how consumers are reacting. If a certain phrase pops up on both sides, that could be a sign that your marketing is working: It’s getting consumers to associate characteristics with your products and use your brand’s language. If a certain phrase is present only in marketing and not in reviews, though, that could suggest an opportunity to teach customers about why that characteristic is important and how to recognize it.

Case study: Body lotion

Take body lotion, for example. It’s a competitive category with brands trying to differentiate themselves with the same techniques: emphasizing how well their products moisturize and for how long, highlighting dermatologist expertise, and naming specific ingredients. Do consumers care about these same things? And perhaps more importantly, do they tend to talk about these same things in positive reviews?

A top keyword in body lotion marketing is, unsurprisingly, “moisturizing.” Cerave used this word (or a version of it, such as “moisturization”) in 24% of digital marketing (January 2022 – May 2022) by spend. Eucerin used it in 37% of digital marketing.

Source: Mintel/Pathmatics [1/1/22 5/11/22] as of 5/11/22)

Source: Mintel/Pathmatics [1/1/22-5/11/22] as of 5/11/22)

Cetaphil, however, dedicated just 3% of spend in the same period to creatives with “moisturizing.” Instead, they focused on claims about “sensitivity” and “hydration.” Meanwhile, “moisturizingshowed up in just 2% of customers’ reviews of Cetaphil products. At first glance, that makes it seem like Cetaphil is doing the right thing: not dedicating too much spend to something customers aren’t really talking about, and using the word “hydrating”—a word that more effectively spans wellness culture. But it’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg situation: Are customers not talking about it because Cetaphil isn’t talking about it?

When we look at competitors, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Despite “moisturizing”heavy marketing, Cerave and Eucerin aren’t getting many reviews that mention the term—just 3% and 2%, respectively. This suggests, perhaps, that the term “moisturizing” is a given when it comes to lotion, and brands would be smart to think of other ways to talk about their products in order to make them stand out—and that drives reviewers’ conversations.

What we think

Of course, you don’t want to talk exactly how your customers talk. And there are plenty of things to talk about in marketing that could drive purchases without showing up in reviews. What’s more, if you try to emulate your customers too much, you might lose credibility—and so might customers, with their reviews sounding less authentic and more like paroting advertisements. This is where Mintel Consulting comes in; we use our category and marketing expertise to guide you on how to borrow from customers, drive the conversation, and push novelty—all at once.