Survey Confirms the Value of Reviews, Provides New Insights

Blonde Woman Reading an E-Book on Her Tablet featured image

PowerReviews surveyed 800 consumers in late 2014 and confirmed that reviews are growing in importance for online and in-store shoppers.

95% of consumers use reviews and 86% say they are essential when making purchase decisions. And nearly one-third of consumers under the age of 45 consults reviews for every single purchase. Only price impacts purchase decisions more than ratings and reviews.

Consumers Seek Reviews

56% percent of shoppers specifically seek out websites with reviews. I know I do. If I’m shopping and the site I’m on doesn’t have reviews for the product I’m considering, what do I do? I go to Amazon. And that is the last thing a retailer wants. Because if I go to Amazon for the review, I am very like to stay for the purchase.

Most Important Product Categories for Reviews

We asked consumers which categories were most important to them when it came to reviews. The top categories were Electronics (82%), Appliances (80%), and Computers (80%), all big ticket items.

Shoppers want confirmation of the quality of these products before they purchase. Baby came in fourth, with 44% of consumers ranking reviews as important for this category. Parents take extra care when choosing equipment and toys for their children and like to see photos of equipment being used in real homes. Here’s a great user-contributed photo from BabiesRUs, a PowerReviews customer.

Looks Matter

We also found that consumers had strong views on what helpful reviews looked like. An overwhelming majority– three out of four consumers– found a tag-based approach more helpful. We showed them two reviews of the same product, Hope in a Jar, a moisturizer from Philosophy.

The first review came from and has a plain text approach. All you can see with a quick scan is the title and star rating.

Tag-Based Reviews Preferred by 3 out of 4 Consumers

The second review, preferred by three out of four shoppers, is a tag-based review on, a PowerReviews customer. With the tag-based approach, shoppers see what’s important very quickly. You can see the pros—absorbs quickly, goes on smoothly, etc– and the CONS– quickly. This tag-based approach makes it easy for shoppers to get the information that’s important to them, quickly.

Negative Reviews Earn Trust

Some retailers or brands may initially wonder why they would display negative reviews about their products on their website. In fact, negative reviews drive consumer trust. Posting negative reviews assures consumers that the site is not hiding anything and that they can trust the content on the site. 82% of consumers seek negative reviews. For consumers under 45, the number jumps to 86%.

Who Writes Reviews?

The survey found that less than half–42%– of consumers report writing reviews. And while 42% report writing reviews, they don’t do so for every purchase. When consumers are asked to write a review after a purchase, only 3-10% will write a review. So that means that a consumer will write a review once every 4-14 purchases, depending on category, timing and other factors.

Percentage of shoppers leaving reviews

Interestingly, the biggest consumers of reviews, Millennials, are the least likely to write a review. What’s a brand or retailer to do?

What’s in it for me?

When we asked consumers why they don’t write reviews, 55% said that they needed motivation– recognition and rewards– to write reviews.

A challenge for brands and retailers then is to develop strategies to encourage consumers to write reviews, particularly for key products. An engagement-based loyalty program can help.

To learn more about engagement-based loyalty, join our March webinar to hear how Step2 increased images and videos uploaded to reviews 600%.