How review volumes and recency impact purchase behavior, based on insights from more than 9,000 consumers and analysis of activity across 1.5MM+ ecommerce product pages on 1,200+ brand and retailer sites.

Survey at a Glance:

The Power of Review Volume & Recency explores the importance to consumers of product review volumes and review recency when shopping online. Key findings include:

Consumers value (and expect) recent reviews.
  • 97% of consumers consider review recency to be at least somewhat important when considering a purchase.

  • 64% of consumers say they’re more likely to buy a product with fewer, more recent reviews than if it has a higher volume of reviews published three or more months ago. This number is even higher – 69% – among Boomers. 

  • 86% of shoppers feel that review recency is more important when considering a product or brand they haven’t purchased before.  

  • Ideally, nearly half (44%) of consumers want to be able to find reviews written within the past month.
The availability of recent reviews (or lack thereof) impacts purchase behavior.
  • Just over a third (38%) will not purchase a product if the only reviews available were published three months or more ago. 

  • 62% will not purchase a product if the only reviews available were published a year or more ago.
Shoppers pay attention to review volume, and they have high expectations.
  • 79% of consumers consider the volume of reviews “always” or “regularly” when reading this content.

  • In an ideal world, 23% say products should have more than 500 reviews. However, they’re willing to settle for fewer. Nearly half (45%) say a product must have a minimum of 1-25 reviews for them to feel comfortable purchasing it.

  • Consumers expect a lot of reviews, but typically, they read far fewer. The majority of shoppers – 69% – read between one and 25 reviews when considering a product.
A high volume of reviews impacts purchase likelihood.
  • 80% of consumers are less likely to buy a product if it has no reviews. This number is even higher – 92% – among Gen Z shoppers. 

  • 64% of consumers are more likely to purchase a product that has more than 1,000 reviews than one that has 100 reviews (assuming the average star rating is the same). Significantly more – 80% – of Gen Z’ers say this is the case.

  • Over half (54%) of consumers are more likely to purchase a product with 10,000 or more reviews than one with 1,000 reviews. The number is even higher – 73% – among Gen Z shoppers.
A high volume of reviews positively impacts conversion.
  • There’s a 296.2% lift in conversion among shoppers who are exposed to 5,000 or more reviews, when compared to those exposed to no reviews.

  • Visitors exposed to 5,000+ reviews convert at a rate that’s 122.1% higher than those exposed to between one and 100 reviews. 

  • A high volume of reviews impact conversion lift for products across categories, including:
    • Consumer packaged goods (CPG)
    • Health and beauty
    • Baby
    • Automotive and motorsports
    • Consumer electronics and appliances
    • Apparel and accessories
    • Toys
    • Home and garden, machinery and tools, and furniture

Introduction

Reviews Have Never Been More Important

Consumers weigh a variety of factors when making purchase decisions. But our own recent research found that reviews have become the most important factor, ranking above other important elements including price and recommendations from family and friends. 

In fact, 99.9% of consumers read reviews when shopping online at least sometimes. And 57% do so when shopping in-store. 

99.9% read reviews when shopping online at least sometimes. 57% do so in-store.

By now, the vast majority of brands and retailers have heard this message loud and clear and have started to collect ratings and reviews. But are their efforts enough to satisfy shopper expectations and drive maximum ROI? 

The Presence of Reviews Alone isn’t Enough to Satisfy Shoppers

Consumers seek out reviews when they’re shopping for just about anything online and – increasingly – offline. But simply having reviews for a given product isn’t enough to convince shoppers to buy it. 

Instead, our previous research has found that consumers consider many components when reading reviews; there are two that are particularly important. 

The first factor is review recency – in other words, how long ago reviews were published for a given product. The second is review volume, or the number of reviews available for a given product.

Review Recency
How recently a given review was published.
Review Volume
The quantity of reviews for a given product.

We wanted to explore just how important both these factors are for consumers.

Research Methodology

It is based on survey responses from 9,012 consumers across the United States and analysis of consumer activity across more than 1.5MM online product pages from more than 1,200 retail and brand sites over a six month period.

The following report draws on insights from two data sources:

  • A survey of 9,012 consumers in the U.S. fielded in November 2021. The results are drawn from a panel of consumers who have opted into discounts and incentives from brands and retailers.
  • Shopping activity on more than 1.5MM online product pages across more than 1,200 brand and retailer sites between May 1st, 2021 and November 4th, 2021.

While the first part focuses on consumer expectations, preferences and habits – according to consumers themselves, part two shares insights from our analysis of the impact of review quantity on conversion.

By understanding what consumers expect in terms of review quantity and recency – and how these factors impact conversion – brands and retailers are better equipped to meet the needs of shoppers and drive bottom line results.

The Value of Review Recency & Volume, According to Consumers

By now, it’s well understood that the majority of consumers read reviews. Our previous research found that shoppers weigh many factors when reading reviews, including the quantity of reviews for a given product, as well as how recently those reviews were published. 

We wanted to further understand exactly why review recency and quantity matters to consumers, when it matters most, and their specific expectations.

Survey Demographics Breakdown

Generations

Gen Z
(1997-present)
3%
Millennials
(1981-1996)
35%
Gen X
(1965-1980)
51%
Baby Boomers
(1946-1964)
11%

Household Income

*Research based on responses from 9,012 US consumers surveyed in November 2021

The Importance of Review Recency

A previous survey found that recency is a top factor consumers consider when reading reviews. But just how much value do consumers place on finding fresh review content? And how recent is recent enough? 

Review Recency Matters to Consumers

Recency is a MAJOR consideration for consumers.

Consumers Frequently Consider Review Recency
When reading product reviews, how often do you consider when the review was written?

So recency matters. But just how important is review freshness when a shopper is considering a product purchase?

Nearly all – 97% – of consumers consider review recency to be at least somewhat important when weighing a purchase decision:

Importance of Review Recency
How important is the recency with which reviews are written to you when considering buying a product?

Review Recency Actually Trumps Review Volume

We know that the quantity of reviews for a given product is another factor that consumers consider (and one that we’ll explore in more detail later in this report). When it comes to making purchase decisions, which factor carries more weight: recency or volume? 

64% of consumers indicate they’re more likely to buy a product with fewer, more recent reviews than one with a large volume of reviews older than three months.

The Importance of Recency vs Volume
Would you be more likely to buy a product with fewer reviews overall that are all written within the past three months over a product with more reviews but all written longer ago than the past three months?
Overall
Boomers
Gen X
Millennials
Gen Z

Interestingly, Boomers are the generation most likely to indicate that recent reviews are more important than the quantity of reviews. 

Why Recency Matters

We know consumers consider how recently reviews were written. But why do consumers care when a review was published?

Consumers Value Review Recency for a Number of Reasons
Which of the following reasons explain why when a review was written is important?
More accurate indicator of quality of the product
70%
Makes me feel more confident about my purchase
54%
Makes the review more relevant to me
53%
Recent reviews are more trustworthy
23%

Shoppers value recent reviews for a number of important reasons. It’s important that they can easily find fresh reviews for the products they’re considering. 

Shoppers Have High Expectations for Recent Reviews

Clearly, consumers care about how recently a review was written. But how recent is recent enough?

In an ideal world, nearly half (44%) want to see review content written within the past month.

Specific Review Recency Expectations for Consumers
In an ideal world, how recently do you like to see that review content was left on a specific product when assessing whether to purchase it?

When it comes to the recency of reviews, consumers have high expectations. Brands and retailers must make it a priority to consistently generate a steady stream of reviews so shoppers can always find the fresh content they’ve come to expect.

A Lack of Recent Reviews Can Deter Shoppers

Consumers expect to find recently published reviews for the products they’re considering. If they come up short, they’re likely to pass up a product in favor of one with fresher content.

Whether Consumers Consider Alternative Product if all Reviews are 3+ Months Old
If all reviews on a product you are considering buying were published THREE MONTHS AGO OR MORE, would that make you more likely to consider purchasing an alternative product from a competitor that has more recent reviews?
Overall
Boomers
Gen X
Millennials
Gen Z

So over a third of those we surveyed (38%) indicate that if all reviews for a product were published three months ago or more, they’d be more likely to purchase a different product from a competitor with more recent reviews. Interestingly, that number is even higher – 44% – among Gen Z shoppers. 

The older the reviews for a product, the more likely a consumer is to go with a different product instead.

Whether Consumers Consider Alternative Product if all Reviews are One Year Old+
If all reviews on a product you are considering buying were published ONE YEAR AGO OR MORE, would that make you more likely to consider purchasing an alternative product from a competitor that has more recent reviews?
Overall
Boomers
Gen X
Millennials
Gen Z

Younger consumers are even more likely to find an alternative product if the one they’re considering only has reviews that were published a year or more ago. 66% of Gen Z’ers would do so, compared to 52% of Boomers.

When Review Recency Matters Most

So, shoppers pay attention to when reviews were written. But are there certain circumstances when recency matters more? 

As it turns out, yes. The majority (86%) feel that review recency is even more important when they’re considering a brand or product they haven’t purchased before. That makes sense, as there’s risk involved with purchasing a new or unknown brand or product. Fresh, relevant reviews can help shoppers overcome that risk to make a confident purchase. 

Recency Matters More for New or Unknown Brands or Products
For a brand or product you haven't purchased before, do you consider review recency to be even more important?

We know from our previous research that consumers read reviews when they’re purchasing products across a wide array of categories. And our most recent survey found that most consumers want to find recent reviews for products they’re considering.  That begs the question: does recency matter more for certain product categories? 

Importance of Review Recency Across Product Categories
When shopping for products in each of the following categories, is it more important to have recent reviews available?
Consumer Electronics and Appliances
95%
Health and Beauty
93%
Clothes, Shoes, and Accessories
90%
Home Improvement, Decor, and Furniture
86%
Pet Products
80%
Toys
80%
Perishable Products/Groceries
78%
Dry Goods/Consumer Packaged Goods
78%
Baby Products
73%

It’s clear that review recency is important – no matter what type of product a shopper is looking for. In order to attract and convert shoppers, brands and retailers must consistently generate fresh reviews for products of all types. If they don’t, shoppers are likely to look elsewhere. 

How Review Volume Impacts Purchase Behavior

Volume is another top factor shoppers consider when reading reviews. In other words, consumers pay attention to the quantity of reviews written about a given product. 

How many reviews are enough to satisfy consumers? And how does the presence (or lack) of a high volume of reviews impact purchase behavior? 

Most Consumers Consider Volume

For many consumers, the quantity of reviews is top of mind when shopping for a given product. In fact, 99% of consumers consider the volume of reviews – at least to some extent – when shopping online.

Importance of Review Volumes
When reading product reviews, how often do you consider how many reviews the product has?

Consumers Want a High Volume of Reviews – But They Actually Read Far Fewer

Consumers pay attention to review quantity. But how many reviews do they typically read? And how many is enough to satisfy them?

Ideally, consumers want to be able to find a high volume of reviews – and many want to find an extremely high volume.

Consumers Review Volume Expectations
What is the IDEAL number of reviews a product should have in your opinion?

However, despite these high expectations, many consumers are willing to settle for fewer reviews before buying a product.

Minimum Review Volumes Required To Make a Purchase
What is the MINIMUM number of reviews a product needs to have for you to feel comfortable purchasing it?

Consumers want to find plenty of reviews for a product they’re considering. But how many reviews do they actually read?

The majority of consumers (69% to be exact) typically read between one and 25 reviews.

Volume of Reviews Actually Read when Purchasing Product Online
Approximately how many customer reviews do you typically actually read before purchasing a product?

If most consumers read between one and 50 reviews for a given product, then why do they want to find so many more? One critical likely reason: a high volume of reviews ensures a shopper can sort and filter to find reviews that are relevant to their needs and use case. Then, they read the reviews most relevant to them. 

Review Volume (or Lack Thereof) Impacts Purchase Likelihood

Consumers expect a high volume of reviews for any given product. But how does the presence (or absence) of a large quantity of reviews impact whether or not they decide to make a purchase? 

If there are no ratings or reviews for a given product, 80% of those we surveyed say they are less likely to buy it. 

Younger generations are even more likely to steer clear of products without ratings and reviews. 90% of Gen Z shoppers and 86% of Millennials indicate they’d be less likely to purchase a product with no ratings and reviews, compared to 78% of Gen X’ers and 70% of Boomers. 

But make no mistake: a significant portion of shoppers across all generations are deterred by a lack of reviews.

Impact of No Reviews on Purchase Likelihood
If there are no ratings and reviews for a product, would you be less likely to buy it?
Overall
80%
Boomers
70%
Gen X
78%
Millennials
86%
Gen Z
90%

If a nonexistent volume of reviews can negatively impact purchase decisions, then can a high volume of reviews positively impact purchase likelihood? 

In a word, yes.

Younger consumers are even more likely to be influenced if a product has more than 1,000 reviews.

Influence of 1,000 Reviews vs 100 Reviews on Purchase Likelihood
Are you more likely to buy a product if it has more than 1,000 reviews than if it has 100 reviews?
Overall
64%
Boomers
44%
Gen X
60%
Millennials
74%
Gen Z
80%

But what if a product has an extremely high quantity (10,000 or more) reviews? Over half (54%) of consumers would be more likely to purchase it than if it has 1,000 reviews. 

And again, younger consumers are more likely to be swayed by this high volume of reviews. 

Influence of 10,000 Reviews vs 1,000 Reviews on Purchase Likelihood
Are you more likely to buy a product if it has more than 10,000 reviews than if it has 1,000 reviews?
Overall
54%
Boomers
33%
Gen X
50%
Millennials
64%
Gen Z
73%

So to sum up: A lack of reviews deters most shoppers. On the other hand, a high volume of reviews increases the likelihood a shopper will purchase the product in question. And the higher the volume, the better. Brands and retailers must ensure they have plenty of reviews for the products in their catalogs. 

A High Volume of Reviews Boosts Shopper Confidence When Purchasing New Products

Most shoppers have tried and true products that they purchase time after time. For example, a consumer might purchase the same moisturizer and foundation every time he or she runs out. But there are also instances when consumers consider new (or new to them) brands and products. There’s risk involved with purchasing something new, and reviews help remove that risk. 

When considering new products, younger consumers are more likely to place greater value on review volume than their older counterparts. 84% of Gen Z shoppers and 76% of Millennials feel that the number of reviews is especially important when they’re purchasing a new brand or product, compared to 68% of Gen X’ers and 61% of Boomers.

Importance of Review Volume for “Unknown” Products and Brands
Is review volume (number of ratings and reviews that product has) more important to you when purchasing from a new (to you) brand or product?
Overall
71%
Boomers
61%
Gen X
68%
Millennials
76%
Gen Z
84%

So, reviews are important for products consumers haven’t previously bought before. But just how many reviews are necessary to give a shopper the confidence they need to purchase a new product or brand?

Ideal Review Volume for “Unknown” Products and Brands
For a brand or product that you haven't purchased before, what is the IDEAL number of reviews a product needs to have in order for you to purchase it?

It’s clear consumers value recency when considering new products. As a best practice, be sure to launch new products with plenty of reviews already in place. A great way to do that is through a pre-launch product sampling campaign.

When Review Volume Matters Most

The number of reviews for a given product is a factor consumers weigh when making purchase decisions. But does volume matter more for some products than it does for others?

The fact is, consumers consider review volume when shopping for products across a wide variety of categories.

Importance of Review Volumes by Product Category
For which of the following product CATEGORIES do you consider review volume?
Consumer Electronics and Appliances
80%
Health and Beauty
71%
Clothes, Shoes, and Accessories
63%
Home Improvement, Decor, and Furniture
57%
Pet Products
43%
Toys
41%
Perishable Products/Groceries
37%
Dry Goods/Consumer Packaged Goods
35%
Baby Products
34%

Review volume is an important factor across all product categories. But does the value consumers place on review quantity vary by product type?

Importance of Review Volume by Product Type
For which of the following product TYPES do you consider review volumes?
High price-point or luxury
73%
New arrivals
67%
Items with a high purchase frequency
47%
Items that have been around for a long time
40%
Non-season specific items (that may have a longer shelf life)
39%

There are two categories for which consumers are most likely to consider review volumes: high price-point or luxury items (73%) and new arrivals (67%). This isn’t surprising, as there’s more at stake when a shopper purchases an expensive or new-to-market product. However, a high volume of reviews can help shoppers overcome the risk and confidently purchase these types of products.

So when it comes to review collection, it makes sense to prioritize high price-point and new products. However, the aim should be to have a large quantity of reviews available for all different types of products.

The Conversion Impact of a High Volume of Reviews

The quantity of reviews available for a given product is something that matters to customers. Our survey of consumers found that 79% regularly or always consider volume when reading product reviews.

But how does the volume of reviews impact one of the metrics that matters most to brands and retailers: conversion?

Earlier this year, we conducted an analysis of consumer activity across more than 1.5MM online product pages from more than 1,200 retail and brand sites. Our key finding? The higher the quantity of reviews, the higher the conversion rate. 

Conversion Lift Relative to Number of Reviews Displayed
0 Reviews Displayed
0%
1-10 Reviews Displayed
52.2%
11-30 Reviews Displayed
102.9%
31-50 Reviews Displayed
133.5%
51-100 Reviews Displayed
148.7%
101+ Reviews Displayed
251.2%

This particular analysis explored the impact of displaying a relatively low volume of reviews – up to 100.

However, we know from our most recent survey that while most consumers read between one and 50 reviews for a given product, many expect a much larger volume to be available. If they find a high volume, they say they’re more likely to purchase the product in question. 

Remember: 64% of consumers are more likely to purchase a product if it has more than 1,000 reviews than if it has 100 reviews (assuming the average star rating is the same). And 54% say they’re more likely to purchase a product if it has 10,000 reviews than if it had 1,000. 

Does what consumers say match up with reality? 

To find out, we conducted a deeper analysis. But this time, we expanded the scope to find out how particularly large volumes of reviews – up to 5,000+ – impact conversion rates.

Research Methodology

We analyzed consumer activity during more than 4.5B visits, across more than 1.55MM online product pages from more than 1,200 retail and brand sites during a six month period (May 1, 2021-November 4, 2021). Note: there are simply fewer product pages with the really high review volumes. In cases where data volumes are too low to make meaningful comparisons, we have omitted corresponding volume categories in our analysis below.

In order to accurately assess the impact of high review volumes on shopper behavior, we calculated the visitor conversion rate based on the product page visited with the most reviews during a site visit (counted as all interactions with a specific site in a 24 hour period). This consumer-centric evaluation approach focuses on the shopper and the impact that exposure to reviews has on the likelihood to convert. 

How High Review Volumes Affect Shopper Conversion

We know from our previous analysis that there’s a significant lift in conversion when a shopper is exposed to at least one review. And the impact on conversion is most significant when shoppers are exposed to 101 reviews or more.

But what happens when that shopper is exposed to a volume of reviews greater than 101? 

The short answer is, they’re even more likely to convert. 

When a shopper is exposed to 5,000 or more reviews, there is nearly a 3X lift in conversion rate over no reviews.

Conversion Lift Relative to Number of Reviews Displayed
0 Reviews Displayed
0%
1-100 Reviews Displayed
76.7%
101-250 Reviews Displayed
143.2%
251-500 Reviews Displayed
166.4%
501-1000 Reviews Displayed
172.1%
1001-5000 Reviews Displayed
224.7%
5000+ Reviews Displayed
292.6%

Consumers exposed to 5,000 or more reviews convert at a rate that’s nearly three times that of consumers who aren’t exposed to any reviews.

But how does the conversion rate for 5,000+ reviews compare to those exposed to a lower volume of reviews? 

There’s a linear relationship between the number of reviews and the lift in conversion. In other words, as the quantity of reviews increases, so too does the lift in conversion.

And the greatest impact is seen when a shopper is exposed to 5,000 or more reviews. Those exposed to 5,000 or more reviews convert at a rate that’s 122.1% higher than those exposed to between one and 100 reviews.

Conversion Lift Relative to Number of Reviews Displayed
1-100 Reviews Displayed
0%
101-250 Reviews Displayed
37.6%
251-500 Reviews Displayed
50.7%
501-1000 Reviews Displayed
54%
1001-5000 Reviews Displayed
83.7%
5000+ Reviews Displayed
122.1%

It’s clear that when it comes to reviews, more truly is more. 

The Impact of High Review Volume on Various Top Product Categories

We know from our previous research that a large portion of consumers depend on reviews, regardless of product category. And our latest analysis found that  review volume positively impacts conversion. 

But how does a high volume of reviews impact conversion across specific verticals? Let’s take a closer look.

The Impact of Review Volume on Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) Conversion

Our survey found that just over a third of consumers (35%) consider review volume when purchasing consumer packaged goods such as snacks, cereal, and pantry items. How does a high volume of reviews impact conversion for these products?

Brands selling CPG see the biggest impact when a consumer is exposed to between 501 and 1,000 reviews.

Conversion Lift Relative to Number of Reviews Displayed
0 Reviews Displayed
0%
1-100 Reviews Displayed
36.2%
101-250 Reviews Displayed
93.3%
251-500 Reviews Displayed
81.5%
501-1000 Reviews Displayed
176.9%

It is unsurprising that exposure to a product with 501-1000 reviews results in a conversion lift over exposure to 0 reviews, but is it important to achieve such significant review volumes?

In order to determine how much more of an impact large review volume exposure made on shopper conversion rates vs. lower review volumes, we took our analysis one step further and calculated the conversion lift when shoppers are exposed to greater than 100 reviews vs. when they are exposed to 100 reviews or less.

Notably, CPG shoppers exposed to between 501 and 1,000 reviews convert at 2x the rate of those exposed to between one and 100 reviews.

Conversion Lift Relative to Number of Reviews Displayed
1-100 Reviews Displayed
0%
101-250 Reviews Displayed
41.9%
251-500 Reviews Displayed
33.2%
501-1000 Reviews Displayed
103.3%

The Impact of Review Volume on Health and Beauty Conversion

The majority of consumers (83%) consider reviews to be helpful when shopping for health and beauty products. And our most recent survey found that review volume is particularly important when consumers are purchasing health and beauty products. Nearly three-quarters (71%) of shoppers consider the quantity of reviews available when shopping for products in this category.

Our conversion analysis found the more the reviews, the better.

Conversion Lift Relative to Number of Reviews Displayed
1-100 Reviews Displayed
0%
101-250 Reviews Displayed
24.8%
251-500 Reviews Displayed
59.9%
501-1000 Reviews Displayed
92%
1001-5000 Reviews Displayed
187.6%
5000+ Reviews Displayed
367.3%

Health and beauty brands and retailers must make it a priority to collect a high volume of reviews. If they don’t, they’re leaving money on the table.

The Impact of Review Volume on Baby Product Conversion

A recent survey found that 40% of consumers find reviews to be helpful when shopping for baby products. And a third (34%) factor in review volume when shopping for products in this category. It’s worth mentioning that these numbers are lower than other categories, likely due to the fact that baby products are only purchased by a specific group of consumers. 

How does review quantity impact conversion for baby products?

Well, there’s a 286.8% lift in conversion among shoppers exposed to the holy grail of 501-1,000 reviews, compared to those exposed to 100 or fewer.

Conversion Lift Relative to Number of Reviews Displayed
1-100 Reviews Displayed
0%
101-250 Reviews Displayed
69.7%
251-500 Reviews Displayed
150.3%
501-1000 Reviews Displayed
286.8%
1001-5000 Reviews Displayed
141.3%

The Impact of Review Volume on Automotive and Motorsports Conversion

When consumers are shopping for automotive and motorsports products, a high volume of reviews increases their likelihood of converting.

For the most part, the greater the quantity of reviews, the larger the conversion rate.  When a shopper is exposed to 1,000-5,000 reviews we see a  staggering 504.6% increase in conversion over exposure to 0 reviews. 

Conversion Lift Relative to Number of Reviews Displayed
0 Reviews Displayed
0%
1-100 Reviews Displayed
79.2%
101-250 Reviews Displayed
210.5%
251-500 Reviews Displayed
236.4%
501-1000 Reviews Displayed
227.9%
1001-5000 Reviews Displayed
504.6%

In fact, of the categories we examined for this analysis, the automotive and motorsports category sees one of the largest payoffs when reaching 1,000 to 5,000 reviews. Of note, there’s a 237.5% lift in conversion when a shopper is exposed to an extremely high volume of reviews (1,000-5,000), compared to those exposed to 100 or fewer reviews. 

Conversion Lift Relative to Number of Reviews Displayed
1-100 Reviews Displayed
0%
101-250 Reviews Displayed
73.3%
251-500 Reviews Displayed
87.8%
501-1000 Reviews Displayed
83%
1001-5000 Reviews Displayed
237.5%

The Impact of Review Volume on Consumer Electronics and Appliances Conversion

Nearly all (95%) of consumers say reviews are helpful when they’re shopping for electronics. And 80% indicate review quantity is important when shopping for products in this category. So it’s probably not surprising that a high volume of reviews positively impacts conversion for consumer electronics and appliances. 

There is a 174.3% lift in conversion among shoppers exposed to 5,000 or more reviews for consumer electronics and appliances compared to those who aren’t exposed to any reviews. 

Conversion Lift Relative to Number of Reviews Displayed
0 Reviews Displayed
0%
1-100 Reviews Displayed
79.5%
101-250 Reviews Displayed
54.9%
251-500 Reviews Displayed
70.9%
501-1000 Reviews Displayed
96.5%
1001-5000 Reviews Displayed
83.6%
5000+ Reviews Displayed
174.3%

The Impact of Review Volume on Apparel and Accessories Conversion

Three-quarters of consumers find reviews to be helpful when shopping for clothing. And 63% consider review volume when shopping for apparel and accessories.

There’s a significant conversion rate lift (65.5%) when a consumer is exposed to between one and 100 reviews (compared to those exposed to no reviews). But the lift is even greater – 179.7% – among shoppers exposed to 5,000 or more reviews.

Conversion Lift Relative to Number of Reviews Displayed
0 Reviews Displayed
0%
1-100 Reviews Displayed
65.5%
101-250 Reviews Displayed
118.5%
251-500 Reviews Displayed
137%
501-1000 Reviews Displayed
113.7%
1001-5000 Reviews Displayed
138.9%
5000+ Reviews Displayed
179.7%

It also bears mentioning that those consumers exposed to 5,000 or more reviews convert at a rate that’s 69.02% higher than those exposed to 100 or fewer reviews. 

Conversion Lift Relative to Number of Reviews Displayed
1-100 Reviews Displayed
0%
101-250 Reviews Displayed
32.08%
251-500 Reviews Displayed
43.25%
501-1000 Reviews Displayed
29.17%
1001-5000 Reviews Displayed
44.38%
5000+ Reviews Displayed
69.02%

Clearly, generating a high volume of reviews for products in the apparel and accessories category is well worth the effort. 

The Impact of Review Volume on Toy Conversion

Over half (54% to be exact) of consumers consider reviews to be important when purchasing toys. And 41% consider review volume when purchasing toys.

Toys are a category where it’s especially impactful to have a high volume of reviews. The conversion rate of a customer who is exposed to between 501 and 1,000 reviews is 1,768% higher than the conversion rate of one exposed to no reviews. 

Conversion Lift Relative to Number of Reviews Displayed
0 Reviews Displayed
0%
1-100 Reviews Displayed
38%
101-250 Reviews Displayed
153%
251-500 Reviews Displayed
456%
501-1000 Reviews Displayed
1768%

What’s more, there’s a staggering 1,253% lift in conversion among consumers who are exposed to between 501 and 1,000 reviews for toys, compared to those exposed to 100 or fewer reviews. 

Conversion Lift Relative to Number of Reviews Displayed
1-100 Reviews Displayed
0%
101-250 Reviews Displayed
83%
251-500 Reviews Displayed
303%
501-1000 Reviews Displayed
1253%

The Impact of Review Volume on Home and Home Improvement Conversion

67% of consumers indicate reviews are helpful when they’re shopping for home and garden products. The same percentage – 67 – feel that review volume is important for this category.

As it turns out, a high volume of reviews positively impacts conversion in this category. And the sweet spot lies between 501 and 1,000 reviews. There’s a 154.9% lift in  conversion rate among consumers exposed to between 501 and 1,000 reviews, compared to those exposed to no reviews.

Conversion Lift Relative to Number of Reviews Displayed
0 Reviews Displayed
0%
1-100 Reviews Displayed
73%
101-250 Reviews Displayed
141.9%
251-500 Reviews Displayed
108.1%
501-1000 Reviews Displayed
154.9%

It’s also worth noting that there’s a 47.31% lift in conversion when home and home improvement shoppers are exposed to 501-1,000 reviews in comparison to those exposed to between one and 100 reviews.

Conversion Lift Relative to Number of Reviews Displayed
1-100 Reviews Displayed
0%
101-250 Reviews Displayed
39.84%
251-500 Reviews Displayed
20.27%
501-1000 Reviews Displayed
47.31%

Five Tips for Brands and Retailers

Review recency and volume matter to shoppers. And both factors have the power to positively impact purchase behavior – and a business’ bottom line. 

Read on for our five recommendations for brands and retailers, based on the findings of our most recent survey and internal analysis. 

One
Generate Reviews – A Lot of Them

We know the presence of reviews positively impacts conversion. There’s a 76.7% lift in conversion when a product displays at least one review. 

But consumers expect there to be a lot of reviews available for a given product. And the more reviews there are, the greater the impact on conversion. When a shopper is exposed to 5,000 or more reviews, there’s a 292.6% lift in conversion.

So make it a priority to collect a high volume of reviews for the products in your catalog, and if you are a brand, leverage syndication networks to share natively collected reviews with retail partners.

Two
Focus on constantly refreshing your review content

Consumers expect to find reviews that were published recently. In fact, 44% want to see review content within the past month.

If a shopper is only able to find old reviews for a given product, they’re likely to skip it altogether. If the only reviews available for a product were published a year or more ago, 62% of consumers are likely to skip the product and purchase one with more recent reviews instead. 

Review recency matters so 1) be sure to identify products in your catalog that only have old review content, and then make it a priority to collect fresh content for those products and 2) think of review collection as a constant work in progress that needs to be consistently nurtured.

There are a number of review collection strategies available. Make sure you develop a program that makes use of the various methodologies that best fit your need.

Three
Always Launch New Products with Reviews

86% of consumers consider review recency to be even more important when they’re considering a brand or product they haven’t purchased before. And 71% indicate review volume is more important when purchasing a new (or new to them) product or brand. 

Be sure to launch new products or distribution channels with reviews already in place.

A great way to do this is with a pre-launch product sampling campaign which involves distributing samples prior to launch, and then asking consumers to share their feedback by writing a review.

In addition, be sure you’re always collecting a steady stream of reviews for newer products so shoppers can always find a high volume of recent reviews. One of the best ways to do this is to send out post purchase emails asking shoppers to write reviews for recently purchased products. Also, consider leveraging a solution like  Receipt. Review. Collect. from PowerReviews, which allows you to generate more reviews from verified purchasers by tapping into a powerful database of online and in-store purchases from millions of consumers.

Four
Build Review Displays that Make Sifting Through Review Content Easy

Most consumers read between one and 25 reviews for a given product. But in an ideal world, they want to be able to find many more. That’s likely because a high volume of reviews increases the likelihood they’ll find content relevant to their unique need and use cases. 

Make it easy for shoppers to sift through reviews to find the content most relevant to them.  For example, allow visitors to sort reviews by elements such as star rating and recency. Also, be sure to include a search box so shoppers can look for reviews about the topics that matter most to them.

Five
Measure and Optimize Accordingly

There’s no “one size fits all” approach to review collection. A strategy that works well for one brand may fall flat for another. 

Best practices are a great place to start. But be sure to regularly measure your results, look for opportunities for improvement and optimize accordingly. Where do you need to improve review coverage? What are realistic review volume targets for you given the mechanisms you have available to you and the budget at your disposal? How are your customers engaging with review content on your product pages?

By answering these and other questions, you’ll improve the effectiveness of your program over time – and drive even better bottom line results, which is ultimately what a Ratings and Reviews program is all about.

Power Points:

  • Recently, the FTC sent a warning to over 700 brands and retailers regarding penalties for fake endorsements and reviews.

  • Content moderation is an essential tool for ensuring that user-generated content — including reviews, photos, videos, and Q&A — is authentic and fraud-free.

  • Follow these best practices to prevent fake reviews

If you partner with influencers, you’ve likely become aware of the recent announcement the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sent to over 700 brands and retailers regarding penalties for fake endorsements and reviews. While this notice primarily references influencer content and testimonials, you may be wondering how it applies to your customer reviews. 

Today, nearly all shoppers depend on user generated content (UGC) — including reviews, Q&A, photos and videos — to make informed purchase decisions.

For this reason, every brand and retailer wants to have a positive ratings and reviews footprint. It can therefore be tempting to selectively block negative reviews or manufacture positive review content.

Don’t even think about it. It’s a very bad idea. And again for anyone at the back who didn’t hear: DON’T DO IT.  Why?  Number one: it’s completely unethical and goes against the whole ethos of why shoppers read reviews in the first place when making purchase decisions. Number two: sooner or later, shoppers will figure it out. And when they do, they won’t be happy.

Ask yourself: Do you really want to jeopardize consumer trust and your brand equity? Artificially manufacturing your review footprint is simply not a long-term strategy for success.

Unfortunately, fake reviews have become more prevalent in recent years. According to research from BrightLocal, four in five shoppers say they’ve encountered a fake review in the last year. One in three have seen multiple.

With the rise in fake reviews — and widespread knowledge of them —  it’s essential that brands earn consumer trust by displaying authentic reviews, written by actual customers who have actually purchased and used your products. 

But it’s critical to have a solid moderation process in place to ensure this content is, in fact, authentic. The risk is high for brands that don’t, from lost customers to upwards of $43,000 in fines from the FTC.

Does your existing Ratings & Reviews vendor take authenticity seriously?

As we said,  authenticity is important. Whichever vendor you work with when it comes to UGC or Ratings and Reviews, you need to be asking questions about how they account for this. (Spoiler alert: At PowerReviews, we take authenticity seriously. Very seriously.)

For example, at PowerReviews, we have an entire Authenticity Policy dedicated to it. There, we state our commitment to collecting, displaying and sharing user-generated content from our clients that is authentic and fraud-free. That means we only publish content that hasn’t been modified, made up, fraudulently collected, or selectively curated.

By screening reviews for authenticity first and foremost, we ensure that any UGC collected and displayed through our platform follows the latest FTC guidelines on endorsements and reviews.

Key questions to ask:

So, how do you ensure you promote UGC that’s authentic? And how do you prevent the publishing of fake reviews? It all comes down to content moderation.

A four-step, best practice content moderation process

What does a best-in-class ratings and reviews moderation look like? 

First of all, it needs to account for each and every piece of content submitted by your shoppers. Every user-generated review, photo, video, question, or answer — should go through an extensive moderation process to confirm it’s authentic, appropriate, and fraud-free. Each piece of content should also not be altered in any way.

All content that is published should appear as it is originally written, including typos and grammatical errors. This ultimately is critical to authenticity and snuffling out fake reviews.

Step 1: Fraud Detection

Displaying fake reviews directly violates FTC guidelines. So it’s important to keep this content off your website.

To safeguard against this threat, industry-leading fraud technology can analyze the device fingerprint data used to submit a piece of UGC. This data identifies the device ID associated with a review, such as a smartphone or tablet and helps to identify suspicious device or IP information. By using this technology, you’re able to prevent all different types of fraudulent reviews, including spam, duplicate content, and promotional content.  

For example, if it detects a large number of reviews coming from a single device, those reviews get flagged for potential fraud. Of course, there is a possibility it’s just a customer who’s particularly zealous about reviewing every single product they bought for Black Friday. Most times, however, this kind of activity indicates fraud. Either way, the tech applies a “fraud” tag to it, flagging it for review – potentially by human moderators (more on them in step 3).

Step 2: Automated Filtering

Beyond fraud, systems can also scan each piece of content through an automated filtering process to catch additional authenticity issues, from profanity to personally identifiable information. When a potential issue is detected, a tag is added to that content so that it can be later reviewed by a human. 

Examples of the types of content tagged:

  • Content about the wrong product or retailer
  • Contradictory content, e.g. a rave review with a 1-star rating
  • Duplicate content
  • Foreign language
  • Medical advice
  • Personally identifiable information
  • Profanity
  • Violent content
  • Website URLs

For some tags, such as profanity, the content can be automatically rejected for publication. For others, it can be passed to a human moderation team. 

A best-in-class vendor will enable you to add additional words or phrases to the profanity filter. It will also make regular updates to these filters, based on emerging slang terms or political slogans, to ensure nothing profane gets published.

(PowerReviews applies observations tags, which we detail in our Moderation Policy)

Step 3: Human Moderation

For many businesses and Ratings and Reviews vendors, the moderation process stops at step two. But relying solely on technology can leave you vulnerable to some of the exact issues that violate the FTC guideline –  like deceptive performance claims, medical advice, and other forms of misrepresentation. 

Human moderation adds an additional layer of protection for this very reason. Technology can help prevent fraud and profanity, but humans are better equipped to review for nuance, innuendo, and context.

To meet the high standards for authenticity required to successfully snuff out fake reviews (and not to mention the FTC Guidelines), a moderation process powered by both human and artificial intelligence is ideal.

For example – at PowerReviews, our human moderators review every piece of UGC in our secure portal. All content flagged as an observation by our automatic filtering process will be highlighted, such as profane language or reviews that don’t discuss the products.

Upon reviewing all of the Observations, the moderator will determine whether the review should be published. If a review is rejected for publication, it will not be published and will subsequently not be syndicated (if a brand or retailer using our solution chooses to override this decision, the review will only publish to their site — not to any syndicated retailers).

Also of note: our moderators work on several teams. Some moderators work on all English content, while some review content that needs to follow a specific set of guidelines, such as herbal supplements or financial products (PowerReviews can also facilitate an exclusive moderator to review their content for additional concerns, such as medical advice).

Step 4: Badging and Displaying Content

Once a piece of content passes steps 1-3, it’s ready to be displayed on your website. Woohoo! But remember: it’s important to use accurate badging and disclosure codes that indicate the source of the content. 

This added layer of transparency shows details such as:

  • Where a review came from
  • Whether or not it has been verified i.e. written by a person who actually purchased the product
  • If it’s been syndicated from another site
  • If it was collected via a sampling campaign or was shared as a contest entry
  • If the review was submitted by a company employee

PowerReviews offers the following options which serve as a best practice example.

Verified buyers

A “Verified Buyer” badge should be assigned to reviews written by someone who has actually purchased the product they are reviewing, as identified through their purchase history. This builds consumer confidence, and it also ensures you don’t run afoul of Section 5 of the FTC Act, which prohibits “misrepresenting an endorser as an actual, current, or recent user” of a product.

Sweepstakes & product sampling

The FTC also frowns upon failing to disclose whether an endorsement is paid. In the world of influencers, the proper way to do this is by clearly stating that a post or endorsement is sponsored, e.g. with a #sponsored or #ad hashtag at the top of a post. 

A review might be considered a paid endorsement if the reviewer received the product for free, such as through a sweepstakes or product sampling campaign. Here are some examples of special badges that identify this type of content:

Syndicated reviews

The second example above is also an example of you should badge syndicated reviews. All review content that is syndicated beyond the client’s original website must be badged appropriately (at PowerReviews, we do this by including the name or logo of where the review was originally written – at Too Faced as above, for example).

Staff reviews

Finally, reviews that are written by someone who works for a brand or retailer must also be disclosed, as these people may naturally have a more biased opinion of a brand. For these reviews add a “Staff Reviewer” badge.

It’s important to share as much context as possible about your UGC, as this fosters trust with online shoppers. And in many cases, it’s also required by the FTC (Learn more about PowerReviews Badges).

Preserve the Authenticity of Your UGC Through Moderation

Consumers turn to user-generated content because it’s an authentic, unbiased source of information about products and brands from other people like themselves. Consumers trust UGC.

But simply collecting and displaying UGC isn’t enough. Brands must make it a priority to preserve the authenticity of this content. If you’re relying on a UGC vendor, like most brands and retailers, you need to ensure your UGC vendor has effective and powerful capabilities that prevent fake and inauthentic reviews from sneaking.

Content moderation is an essential tool in this process. By ensuring that every piece of UGC that gets published to your site is authentic, brands and retailers can win the trust of both customers and the FTC.

The multi-step content moderation process at PowerReviews helps retailers publish content that is authentic and meets the FTC’s standards for consumer endorsements. Learn more.

Devin Kerr

Devin joined PowerReviews in 2016 as a Project Manager, assisting customers with their integration. She managed that team for 2 years, and now oversees Content Moderation and various wings of technical support.

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