Power Points:

  • Nearly all (97%) of consumers consider review recency to be at least somewhat important when weighing a purchase decision.

  • 64% of consumers said they would be more likely to buy a product with fewer, more recent reviews than one with a large volume of reviews older than 3 months.

  • Ideally, nearly half (44%) of consumers prefer to find reviews written within the last month.

  • 62% of consumers will not purchase a product if the only reviews available were published a year or more ago.

  • 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.

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

By now, we’re all in agreement that reviews matter. They’re the single most important factor that impacts purchasing decisions, according to consumers — even above price and recommendations from family and friends. 

But, are all reviews created equal? Do recent reviews carry more weight than older reviews? How important is review volume? Is it better to have fewer, more recent reviews or more, older reviews?

To find out the answers to these questions and more, we surveyed 9,012 consumers across the United States. We also analyzed consumer activity across more than 1.5MM online product pages from more than 1,200 retail and brand sites over a six month period, from May 1st, 2021 to November 4th, 2021.

Our research revealed that both of these elements are extremely important to consumers. Today, we’re focusing on review recency. To learn more about the importance of review volume (and get tips for increasing yours), read our full report on The Power of Review Volume & Recency.

Review Recency Matters to Consumers — A Lot

Review recency, or how long ago reviews were published for a given product, is a major consideration for consumers. 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?

When we asked customers how much they considered the recency of reviews when buying a product, 97% said it was at least somewhat important, with six in ten saying it was very important.

When it comes to recency vs. volume, the majority of consumers said they were willing to trade a large volume of reviews for content that is more current. 64% of consumers said they would be more likely to buy a product with fewer, more recent reviews than one with a large volume of reviews older than three months.

This becomes evident when we break it down by product category. Across the board, we see that consumers tend to rate review recency as more important than review volume.

Importance of Recency vs Volume by Category

In some categories, such as Consumer Electronics and Appliances, both recency and volume are valued highly by consumers — 95% of consumers say recency is important, while 80% say volume is important. However, in several categories, the discrepancy between these two becomes more pronounced. For example, twice as many consumers say that recency is important when considering products in Toys and Grocery. For categories like Dry Goods/CPG and Baby Products, they’re more than twice as likely.

That’s not to say that review volume isn’t important. It is. There is a direct, positive correlation between the number of reviews a product has and its conversion rate. When a page goes from 0 to 1 reviews, its conversion rate lifts by over 50%. Add more than ten reviews, and the conversion lift increases by 255%.

So, what’s a retailer to do? Is it better to focus on driving recency or volume?

The good news: Brands and retailers don’t have to sacrifice volume for recency, or vice versa. By their nature, the two are interlinked. Focus on improving one, and you’ll improve the other as well. For example, if you consistently drive new reviews, you’ll naturally boost your review volume at the same time.

Impact on Review Recency on Purchasing Decisions

In the eyes of consumers, more recent reviews are always better. But, how recent is recent enough? And perhaps more importantly, can having too few recent reviews actually dissuade customers from making a purchase? 

Our research says yes.

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?

We posed a hypothetical scenario to our survey respondents: If all the reviews for a product you are considering 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 (assuming both products have the same average star rating and total number of reviews)?

Over a third of those we surveyed (38%) indicated 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. If all the reviews were even older (published 1 year ago or more), the percentage of consumers who would consider an alternative product jumps to 62%.

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?

The bottom line: If your product has no recent reviews for a consumer to consider, you may lose them to a competitor. The older the available reviews are for a product, the more likely a consumer is to purchase an alternative product.

Overwhelmingly, Consumers Prefer More Recent Reviews

Clearly, having an absence of recent reviews can dissuade customers from purchasing — particularly if there’s a competing product with more recent reviews. So, how can brands and retailers ensure they meet consumer expectations for review recency? 

In an ideal world, the vast majority (97%) of consumers said that they would like to see reviews that are no more than one year old.

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?

However, most consumers prefer review content that is even fresher than that. Over three-quarters (77%) of consumers prefer to see reviews that are three months old or younger. Nearly half (44%) want to see reviews published within the last month, and 11% of consumers seek out reviews written that same week.

Why Are Recent Reviews Important to Consumers?

Shoppers value recent reviews for a number of important reasons. 

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%

The main reason consumers value recent reviews is that they provide a more accurate indicator of the product’s quality. Additionally, more recent reviews increase the customer’s confidence about their purchase, and make the reviews feel more relevant and trustworthy.

Given the importance of review recency to consumers, it’s critical that brands make it easy for them to find fresh reviews for the products they’re considering.

4 Tips for Generating Fresh Reviews

If the data tells us anything, it’s that recent reviews matter — a lot. For brands to maximize their review content, it’s important that they not only have a lot of reviews, but that they have a lot of recent reviews. Here are three ways brands and retailers can consistently generate fresh reviews.

1. Put review collection on auto-pilot with a post-purchase email campaign

Our research shows that 60% to 90% of all reviews originate from an email request. Set up a post-purchase email campaign that emails customers after their purchase requesting a review. 

2. Launch new products with reviews with a product sampling campaign

86% of consumers consider review recency to be even more important when they’re considering a brand or product they haven’t purchased before. So, make sure to launch new products with a good number of reviews.

How can you collect reviews before the product has even launched? With a product sampling campaign. Prior to launch, distribute physical samples to customers along with a request that they share their feedback via a review.

Customers love pre-launch product sampling campaigns because it makes them feel like a VIP. Plus, they get something for free. All that goodness puts them in the mood to write a review — enabling new products to launch with recent reviews. 

3. Offer loyalty points for reviews

Do you have a customer loyalty program? Make reviews a point-earning activity. Allow customers to earn points each time they review one of your products.

4. Leverage retail purchase history data

Yes, you read that right. Leverage purchase history data from retailers and marketplaces that sell your product to generate verified reviews from people who have actually bought your product. Expanding your review solicitation methods outside of your own DTC channel has always been a bit of a holy grail. And now you can.

Your Goal for 2022: Focus on Review Recency

If your brand needs a New Year’s resolution, make it this: invest in review recency. Review collection isn’t a one-and-done process. Our data consistently shows that customers highly value recent reviews. Having more recent reviews can increase consumer confidence, build their trust, and encourage them to click the “buy” button. Having too few recent reviews, on the other hand, can encourage them to check out your competitor instead.

Avoid losing customers to the competition. Set yourself up for success by always collecting fresh content. Start now with post-purchase email campaigns for your existing products, sampling campaigns for new products, and incorporating reviews into your loyalty program. 

Alyson Fischer

Alyson Fischer is our Product Marketing Manager, obsessed with using data-driven storytelling to deliver a best-in-class customer experience and inspire dynamic engagement across channels. When she’s not agonizing over writing this bio, you can find her exploring Chicago with her furry sidekick or watching a true crime documentary on Netflix.

Review volume is key, but recency counts too: Nearly 40% won’t buy if product reviews are older than 90 days, and 62% won’t purchase if reviews are older than a year. 

JANUARY 11, 2021—CHICAGO—The majority of shoppers do their homework prior to purchase, with nearly 70% reading between one and 25 consumer product reviews. Some 44% of consumers want access to reviews written within the past month, and 38% won’t purchase a product if the only reviews available are older than 90 days. Most shoppers surveyed – 86% – place even more importance on review recency when buying a product or brand for the first time. 

These are just a few key insights from the latest research from PowerReviews which shows review recency has become just as important as review volumes in the path to purchase. 

The most comprehensive study on the impact of review volumes and recency on consumer behavior, The Power of Review Recency and Volume study draws on insights from more than 9,000 active consumers and shopper behavior across 1.2MM product pages. 

Key findings include: 

Product reviews have a commanding conversion influence on shoppers. 

  • 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. 

Consumers value (and expect) recency in reviews. 

  • 97% of consumers consider review recency to be at least somewhat important when considering a purchase. 
  • 64% of consumers are 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 access to reviews written within the past month. 

Availability of recent reviews (or lack thereof) impacts purchase behavior. 

  • Just over one-third (38%) won’t purchase a product if the only reviews are older than 90 days. 
  • 62% will not purchase a product if the only reviews available were published a year or more ago. 

Shoppers pay attention to review volumes – and they have high expectations. 

  • 79% of consumers consider the volume of reviews “always” or “regularly.” 
  • 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 with the purchase. 
  • Consumers expect a lot of reviews, but typically read far fewer. The majority of shoppers – 69% – read between one and 25 reviews when considering a product. 

Reviews are critical for younger generations. 

  • 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 a product with 1,000 reviews. The percentage is even higher – 73% – among Gen Z shoppers. 

Andrew Smith – VP Marketing at PowerReviews, says: 

“Brands and retailers often make the mistake of thinking that review recency isn’t as important as review volumes. Based on our survey results, this is clearly not the case: the recency factor is of equal importance to consumers. Essentially, review collection is not a ‘one and done’ activity: it’s something that needs to be an ongoing effort. And of course: if a brand or retailer is collecting a regular stream of review content, the overall volume continues to pay conversion dividends. 

“At a time when the customer acquisition costs are high, it’s particularly notable that 86% of consumers find review recency to be more important when considering a brand or product they haven’t purchased before. It provides an authentic reassurance of quality that is hard to replicate. 

“Review volume remains incredibly important to consumers. There is no optimal number when it comes to review volumes: it depends on the site, product and category. However, considering web visitors exposed to 5,000+ reviews convert at a rate that’s 296.2% higher than those exposed to no reviews, it really is a case of the more the merrier.” 

Read the full survey results on the PowerReviews website. 

Research Methodology 

The PowerReviews The Power of Review Recency and Volume consumer survey draws on responses from 9,012 shoppers aged 18-74 across the United States who 

have opted in to offers and discounts from retailers. The survey took place in November 2021. The research also evaluated shopping activity on more than 1.5MM online product pages across more than 1,200 brand and retailer sites between May 1 and Nov. 4, 2021. 

Throughout the survey, we defined Boomers as born in the years 1946 to 1964 (aged 56-74 on Dec 31, 2020), Gen X as born in the years 1965 to 1980 (aged 40-55 on Dec 31, 2020), Millennials as born between 1981-1996 (aged 23-38 on Dec 31, 2020) and Gen Zers born in or after 1997 (ages 22 and younger on Dec 31, 2020). 

ABOUT POWERREVIEWS 

PowerReviews (PowerReviews.com) is a conversion-first UGC vendor obsessed with helping brands and retailers grow their businesses. PowerReviews enables these organizations to generate better quality customer product ratings and reviews in larger volumes and then analyze and benchmark all this data to optimize their UGC programs for conversion, while improving product quality and customer experience. 

PowerReviews is headquartered in Chicago, IL, USA. 

Media Contact 

Erin Lutz 
Lutz Public Relations & Marketing (for PowerReviews) 
erin@lutzpr.com 
949.293.1055 

Power Points

  • Stronger ratings and reviews can lift conversion rates, mitigate returns, and fuel product innovation for footwear brands.

  • Review collection strategies for footwear brands include post-purchase email campaigns, review sweepstakes, and product sampling campaigns.

  • Footwear brands can optimize their review display through a customized review form, customer Q&A, and size fit sliders. 

  • Tools like product sentiment and review search analytics can help footwear brands glean more insights and value from their reviews.

Reviews have always been important. They increase consumer confidence, lift conversion rates, and boost SEO.

But now, as ecommerce becomes more ubiquitous, they’re absolutely essential. 

According to our latest survey of over 6,500 consumers across the United States, ratings and reviews have become the single most important factor impacting purchase decisions, ranking above price, free shipping, brand, and recommendations from family and friends. A staggering 86% of online shoppers (and 51% of those who shop in-store) say they simply won’t buy products without reading reviews first. 

In a world where commerce is increasingly conducted online, reviews and user-generated content can give consumers the information they need to make confident decisions. 

For footwear brands, reviews can answer questions about size, fit, durability, and more. They can provide information beyond a simple product description, arming consumers with feedback from shoppers just like them.

Below, we share best practices for collecting, displaying, and leveraging reviews in the footwear space, using real-world examples from successful brands.

Collecting Reviews: Best Practices for Footwear Brands

From email campaigns to sweepstakes and product sampling, savvy footwear brands are finding effective ways to generate reviews.

Ask your customers for reviews via email

Email is one of the most popular avenues for asking for reviews — and one of the most successful. Our data shows that 80% of all reviews originate from a post-purchase followup email. After implementing review request emails, one PowerReviews customer saw over a 1,000% increase in review volumes the very next month!

After implementing review request emails, this company's review volumes increased by 1,042% in one month!

With results like that, you’d be crazy not to email your customers asking for reviews.

Set up a post-purchase drip campaign for review collection, and you’ll never miss an opportunity to follow up with a customer for their feedback. You’ll always have a steady stream of fresh reviews trickling in.

Run a review sweepstakes

50% of consumers claim they need to be incentivized to write a review, so give the people what they want!

By incentivizing your clients to leave a review, you can grow your review volumes for a low cost and minimal effort. Plus, our data shows that brands see a 260% increase in collection when they incentivize their consumers. 

Throw a review sweepstakes, where each review counts as an entry. One of our apparel clients saw a 290% increase in review collection in just 45 days thanks to this strategy!

Review sweepstakes may offer a gift card as the prize.

With PowerReviews, you can even tag your syndicated reviews. For example, this review at Zappos originally came via a sweepstakes on the FootJoy website:

Generate reviews for new products with a sampling campaign

Our data shows that there’s a direct, linear relationship between the number of reviews a shopper is exposed to on a product page and the lift in conversion rate. When just one review is added to a product page, the product’s conversion rate lifts by 52.2%. Add ten more reviews, and it increases by 102.9%! 

Higher review volumes are associated with higher conversion rates.

There’s only one problem: all new products start out with zero reviews. Fortunately, you can spin up reviews quickly with a sampling campaign. Sampling is a great way to incentivize reviews, especially for newly launched products. Here’s how it works.

  1. Offer customers a free product sample, physical coupon, digital promo code, or gift card to redeem a product for free.
  2. Tell customers that you are looking for their feedback. 
  3. Sit back and wait for the reviews to come in.

Because you’ve already given customers a free product, they’re more likely to return the favor with a review. We’ve found that review submission from a product sampling campaign can range from 60% to 90%. Great, right?

Displaying Reviews: Best Practices for Footwear Brands

Now that you know how to generate reviews, let’s talk about displaying them for maximum impact. 

Customize your review form for better results

The basic review form asks shoppers to provide an overall star rating and describe their thoughts. That works fine for some brands, but footwear shoppers have much more to consider. 

Athletic or running shoe shoppers may wonder how heavy a shoe is, and if it’ll be a pain to carry around in their gym bag. Dress shoe shoppers may need to know whether the shoe can stand a night on the dance floor, or if the color truly matches the product photos.

You can address these concerns with a custom review form. At PowerReviews, we call these merchant-specific questions. They offer two benefits: You can collect more data around your consumers, while at the same time, helping future customers make more confident purchasing decisions. This leads to better conversions and fewer returns. It’s a win-win. 

Take a look at how Crocs does this:

Shoppers can quickly assess the width, size, comfort, and durability of a shoe they’re reviewing, list pros and cons, and describe themselves.

By inviting customers to click on a selection rather than fill in the blank, it’s easy for customers to quickly check off what feels true to them. It also primes them to write a more detailed review.

Once the review is published, all of the reviewer’s selections show up on the product page:

They also appear in summary form at the top of the reviews. This information helps shoppers answer critical questions about a shoe. They can even click on the filters to find reviews from people with similar size and style concerns:

Allow shoppers to filter review content by fit, comfort, and use case.

Invite discussion with Q&A

Even with a stellar review form like Crocs, a review can only answer so many questions. Shoppers will still have additional questions they want to ask. That’s where Q&A comes in.

Q&A gives footwear retailers a chance to connect with consumers during crucial purchase blocking times. Customers may have questions about material, size, or feel. By inviting customers to ask questions and allowing others to answer, footwear brands can mitigate cart abandonment — both for this shopper and future shoppers with similar concerns. 

Tim the Shoe Guy is Skechers' dedicated question-answerer.

Reduce returns with crowdsourced size and fit information

Clothing and footwear brands have some of the highest return rates across industries. According to a report by Footwear News, 57% of footwear is returned because it didn’t fit. Stop the bleeding by helping consumers choose their best fit with a Size/Fit Slider on your review display. 

This simple feature can work wonders for reducing return rates. Customers can rate the size and width of a shoe. Here’s an example of the Size/Fit Slider in action, via Shoe Carnival:

The size fit information appears in the Review Snapshot as well as the individual review.

Leveraging Reviews: Best Practices for Footwear Brands

Reviews can be leveraged throughout your marketing. Here are three smart ways footwear brands can get more use from their ratings and reviews. 

Feature reviews in your email marketing efforts

Reviews provide powerful social proof. Boost sales by featuring them in emails advertising your holiday promotion or latest footwear line. Need to remind shoppers of your best-sellers? That works, too.

Mine customer reviews for new SEO keywords

One of the pillars of SEO is using the same keywords your customers use. But language is always evolving, and sometimes we marketers make the wrong assumptions. 

Stay in lockstep with your customers by regularly reviewing your reviews for key phrases and terms that keep popping up. Are you speaking to these terms in your product descriptions? If not, they may be due for an update.

In this sample review search data for a running shoe brand, terms like size, arch, water, and waterproof, come up often — indicating concerns about fit and pronation as well as interest in how suitable these shoes may be for running in the water.

Understand customer sentiment around your products

Reviews provide direct insight into how your customers feel about your products. By looking at the reviews for a particular shoe, you can see how your customers feel currently, and whether their sentiment has changed over time.

Footwear brands can use sentiment to innovate product design, update their catalog, and determine where to invest their marketing budget next. For example, a shoe with low ratings and countless reviews mentioning “small fit” may be in need of a retooled product description, or a more material change like a redesign. Once the brand makes those improvements, they can track customer sentiment through their reviews. 

Here’s an example of a dashboard generated from review content received:

Example Product Sentiment Analytics data for a footwear brand

Reviews and Footwear: A Perfect Fit

Ratings and reviews are an essential part of retail. Footwear brands can squeeze more value from their reviews by leveraging the best practices above. Increasing review collection, optimizing your review display, and leveraging those review insights in your marketing and product development are key to a successful footwear strategy.

Savannah Claspell

Savannah is an Enterprise Customer Success Manager, passionate about using data and analytics to empower brands to grow their business. When she isn’t helping brands increase and leverage their UGC you can find her deep in a good book, running, or mountainside skiing.

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