Product Reviews Power Purchase Decisions

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Customer Experience
Featuring product reviews greatly impacts buying behavior.

Because technology enables consumers to share feedback and sentiment with ease, product reviews have become increasingly popular with both online and in-store shoppers. Individuals provide granular insight into how specific items perform, empowering future customers to make educated decisions. But, as these reviews grow heavy with importance, brands must come to recognize just how much weight they carry.

PowerReviews' recent "The Power of Reviews" report explores how emerging technologies have come to drive choice and demand. The survey, which polled 800 U.S. consumers, aims to help brands and retailers better understand how ratings and reviews impact buyer behavior, while also examining the current shift in consumer expectations, as today's ecosystem supports an overarching desire for instantaneous results.

The following statistics demonstrate why consumers regularly turn to product reviews and how this third-party feedback impacts purchase decisions:

  • While 95 percent of consumers claim they've consulted customer reviews in the past, 24 percent do so for every purchase they make. Consumers ages 18-29 (29.6 percent) and ages 30-44 (30.1 percent), however, refer to reviews more often than their older counterparts.
  • Fifty-seven percent of online shoppers specifically seek out websites with product reviews, while 70 percent of mobile shoppers-and 77 percent of Millennials, specifically-claim they're more likely to purchase if the company's mobile site or application features ratings and reviews.
  • Reviews are particularly helpful for consumers looking to complete big-ticket purchases, such as electronics (82 percent), appliances (80 percent), and computers (80 percent).
  • Word-of-mouth marketing continues to gain momentum, as people under age 45 are 61 percent more likely to trust consumer reviews more than recommendations from friends or family.
  • Fifty-three percent of consumers consider retailer sites to be the most trustworthy source for reviews, while 39 percent look to media outlets for input. Overall, 66 percent of shoppers consult between one and 10 reviews before completing their purchase.
  • Ideally, consumers believe that they need no more than 10 reviews minimum on-site to trust the validity of the given ratings (65 percent). However, 82 percent of consumers seek out negative reviews on purpose to determine product worst-case scenarios. Negative reviews also establish brand credibility, for consumers often grow suspicious of all positive reviews.
  • Though 42 percent of consumers report leaving feedback for products they've purchased, few do so for every transaction. Generally, reviewers only write comments once every 4-14 transactions. Fifty-five percent of those who never write reviews claim to need motivation and incentive.

Key takeaway: While price remains the ultimate deciding factor, ratings and reviews rank second when it comes to making purchase decisions. Therefore, just as price must be clearly labeled, reviews must be easily accessible. Brands that have an effective omnichannel strategy in place will be sure these reviews appear across all touchpoints to support transparency. However, true authenticity comes from a healthy mix of sentiment, as consumers may grow wary of an overwhelming number of positive reviews. Not everyone will be please with their purchase, so brands must do their best to embrace the negative. Shoppers trust their fellow consumers, for their feedback comes from direct use of the given product. One can also assume that those who've taken the time to rate and review their experience have something valuable to share. Thus, companies willingly display this information, for both they and the consumer can learn from this information.

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