Almost 8 in 10 American adults read online consumer reviews for product and services before making a purchase, with this figure relatively constant across generations, according to a survey from YouGov. The study analyzes the use of online reviews from a variety of angles, finding that a bare majority (51%) of those who read consumer reviews generally read at least 4 before feeling that they have enough information to purchase a product or service. Of note, respondents aged 55+ tend to read fewer reviews, with 58% needing to only read 1-3, as opposed to 46% of respondents aged 18-34. Men also report being likely to read fewer, as only 42% read at least 4, compared to 60% of women.
As for the reasons why they read online consumer reviews, respondents were most likely to do so:
To make sure the product/service is good (79%);
To make sure the product/service works (61%); and
To make sure they don’t get ripped off (53%).
Roughly one-third noted that they read reviews if the price is over a certain amount. Among these respondents, about 1 in 5 indicated that a product or service has to cost more than $100 before they’ll read a review about it.
The product or service types (among those identified) that adults are most likely to read online consumer reviews for before making a purchase are include electronics (53%), household appliances (43%), buying a car (40%) and hotels and/or rooms for rent (36%). Not surprisingly, consumers are most apt to read reviews when they’re researching what product/services to purchase (85%) as opposed to just before they confirm a purchase (14%).
How about the reviews themselves? They’re quite influential, per the research, as 87% of respondents who read them indicate that their overall ratings are either very (34%) or somewhat (53%) important to them when deciding whether or not to purchase a product or service. Interestingly, while a similar 9 in 10 find the content written in reviews to be at least somewhat important in their decision-making, this is more then case for consumers aged 55+ (93%) than those aged 18-34 (84%).
Overall, the vast majority (86%) of adults find reviews to be trustworthy, although far more find them “somewhat” (73%) than “very” (13%) trustworthy. While that aligns with previous research from BrightLocal finding that most consumers find online customer reviews as trustworthy as personal recommendations, the YouGov survey also finds that among the 44% who post online reviews themselves, 49% (including 58% of 18-34-year-olds) admit to having at some point written reviews for products and services they haven’t actually purchased or tried.
In fact, almost two-thirds of adults surveyed feel that individuals at least sometimes write online reviews without actually having purchased the product or service in question, with 16% believing this happens often. Moreover, two-thirds believe that businesses at least sometimes write negative online reviews about their competitors’ products or services, and 8 in 10 feel that businesses at least sometime write positive reviews about their own products or services. Given those responses, it’s surprising that so few distrust reviews!
Among respondents who post online consumer reviews, 62% do so because they want to help others make better purchasing decisions, and 35% because they feel it is polite to leave feedback. Of note, reviewers are more likely to post reviews because they want to make sure good vendors get good business (25%) than to make sure bad vendors are exposed (12%).
Also among those that post reviews, 74% tend to post positive reviews, compared to 22% who tend to post negative ones.
Among respondents who work at B2C companies that receive online reviews, 53% report that the reviews are “very” (29%) or “somewhat” (24%) important to the company.
About the Data: The data is based on a survey of 1,204 US adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between November 4, 2014 to November 6, 2014. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all US adults (aged 18+).
I started my first web marketing campaign in 1997 and continue harvesting this fruitful field until today. I helped many startup and well-established companies to grow by applying innovative inbound marketing strategies.
In 2001 I designed and managed development of the first automated Search Marketing Management System that opened a whole new era in web marketing automation.
For the past 8 years I have been a Head of Marketing for a digital advertising agency, based in Canada. There, I founded the new Search Marketing Department which served over a hundred clients worldwide and tripled the Company revenue in the last 4 years. Currently, I live in Montreal, Canada.
With the accumulated 18-year experience in all aspects of digital marketing and communications, I am ready to contribute all that powerful mix of skills and knowledge to your Business now - without a delay!
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