News • 18.01.2022

Survey: ‘Stale’ product reviews are a big turn-off for shoppers

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

Five yellow stars on a pink and blue background
Source: towfiqu999999 / Unsplash

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.”

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).

Source: PowerReviews

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