We all aim to have a five star rating for our online reviews. It stands to reason that the higher the average review, the more trust consumers will place in our brand.
My MBA dissertation centered on market entry strategies for online retailers. Even back in 2005/2006 it was plainly evident that higher perceived trust related to increased profitability.
Reading through research by Northwestern University’s Spiegel Digital and Database Research Center and PowerReviews highlighted some really interesting outcomes that I note below.
A five star review isn’t the best
The best average review rating is between, and inclusive of, 4.2 and 4.5. The research found that an average review rating of 4.2 to 4.5 resulted in a higher likelihood of the prospective customer purchasing the product. A review rating higher that 4.5 is perceived by the prospective purchaser as ‘too good to be true’ (i.e. the purchaser doesn’t trust that the high score is genuine). A few lower scores appear to be beneficial as this is what purchasers expect to see and the negative reviews add to the sense of trust that reviews are authentic.
PowerReviews research found that 82% of shoppers specifically seek out negative reviews
Reviews matter more for more expensive products
Reviews matter more for products that are costly, involve safety or are a new product or brand. The research found that reviews reduce perceived risk for potential purchasers. With two products in the same product category, reviews for the more expensive product will hold more weight than for the less costly product.
What is the best number of product reviews?
The research also looked at the content and number of reviews. The findings are that if reviews are short, then more reviews are needed. Conversely, long reviews mean that less are needed.
The research by Northwestern University’s Spiegel Digital and Database Research Center and PowerReviews looked at the effect of reviews and ratings on sales of products. We shouldn’t however negate the importance of the various findings by Behavioral Economists which also looks at purchasing choice and influence. There are many items that make a person choose a certain product over another; it’s interesting to know how reviews influence the decision making process.