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The Importance of Reviews for High Consideration Items

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Reviews are an important element in a shopper’s journey. In fact, PowerReviews research found that the presence of ratings and reviews ranked as the most important factor affecting purchase decisions — behind only the price of the product itself.

But under what circumstances are reviews most impactful on sales? We recently partnered with Northwestern University’s Spiegel Digital & Database Research Center to find out.

Reviews for Products in High Consideration Categories
One element the Northwestern research team studied was the level of involvement or consideration from a consumer’s perspective when purchasing a product. For the purposes of this study, we defined high consideration categories as products that consumers think more about buying because of:

  • Price
  • Safety
  • New or unknown brand or product

For example, baby food is classified as a high consideration category because a baby’s health and safety is a big concern for parents. Obviously, parents don’t want to feed their children products that will harm them.

Take a look at the charts below which outline the findings for two high consideration categories — baby food and weight loss products. You’ll see that as the star rating for the cheaper product in each category increases, it has little impact on purchase probability. However, when the star rating for the more expensive product in the category increases, the purchase probability significantly increases. The takeaway here is that star ratings are most impactful for expensive products within high consideration categories.

Baby Food


Weight Loss


Reviews Mitigate Risk
Why do star ratings have a bigger impact on products in high consideration categories? Purchasing a high consideration product requires careful consideration of economic investment, family safety or personal identity. For example, a consumer may not ordinarily seek out reviews for cereal or shampoo, but if it’s a new brand or is higher priced within its category (think organic), more information — in the form of reviews — can strengthen consumers’ confidence in a product, leading to a greater willingness to pay for it.

Consider Sampling for New Products
Reviews are especially impactful when the likelihood of a consumer purchasing a product is inherently low. This is especially true when a brand or product is relatively unknown or completely new. But how can you generate more reviews for new products?

Product sampling is an effective way to generate reviews for new products. In fact, PowerReviews Product Sampling campaigns see an 85% review completion rate. The reviews you generate from sampling can help mitigate risk for future buyers, leading to more sales.


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Theresa O’Neil

Theresa is the SVP of Marketing for PowerReviews. She is responsible for building and leading the PowerReviews marketing team in the development and execution of programs that increase awareness of the PowerReviews brand and technology, generate leads and support direct and indirect channels to grow revenue and profitability. Theresa brings more than 20 years of… Read more »