How to Interpret Consumer Product Information

Instructor: Kyle Aken

Kyle is a journalist and marketer that has taught writing to a number of different children and adults after graduating from college with a degree in Journalism. He has a passion for not just the written word, but for finding the universal truths of the world.

This lesson will go over how to interpret consumer product information like costs, quantity, delivery charges, and warranties. Understanding the types of information available and how to use it allows consumers to compare similar products so they can make the most cost-effective purchase. Informed shopping helps maintain a sound budget.

How to Interpret Consumer Product Information

The wealth of information available online about products can be overwhelming. Consumer product information is regulated for many products to allow consumers to research similar items from different companies with comparable information.

First, you need to decide what item you want or need to buy. Let's use an LCD television as an example. Looking at electronic equipment, most manufacturers will provide basic information on size, power usage, range of sound, and other features for a specific item. Online research for LCD televisions will bring back dozens of hits. Amazon and other online sellers have a 'compare the selected' option so you can select different models that the website will line up side by side.

Types of information to review:

- Manufacturer's specifications and descriptions.

- Customer reviews of the desired product.

- Different seller locations to find a better price for the same item.

- Government product safety sites to check recall or warning notices.

- Competing products with similar features.

- Media stories about category of items and/or the specific item.

- Return policy

- Warranty

Some of the above listed information can be found grouped together by online retailers. For products that you plan to purchase in a brick and mortar store, you may have to stop into a few different stores to do the comparison research. A lot of information listed about products can be viewed as an 'apples to apples' comparison. Look at the options and determine which product has the combination of features you are looking for. By looking at the features and specifications, narrow down your choices to at least three options before continuing the research.

Use the News

Once you identify at least three prospects, look for reviews and media stories about the noted items. Reading online customer reviews is critical, as long as you remember that sometimes a person uses a review to 'get back' at the seller. When reading, a negative tone with a lot of exaggerated language suggests that the writer is not providing an impartial review. If the reviews of a desired product are negative, then it may not be a quality product. If most are positive, that is encouraging. Again, read several reviews about the product. This information can tell you how that product performed by a customer and point out good and/or bad attributes that you had not considered.

Media stories often include rankings of top and bottom products, as well as good general information about the product's category. Media stories may also mention a poor safety record or recall. These can be verified on a government recall site. Also read expert consumer reviews of the product and the manufacturer.

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