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BizReport : Ecommerce archives : October 13, 2015

Do you really want 5-star product reviews?

Recent research reveals that product reviews with five stars, whether on Amazon, Google or on a merchant's own website, can instill a sense of doubt in consumers. So, are five-star reviews something to aim for?

by Helen Leggatt

When a product has a review of between one and three stars, there is little effect on purchase decision, according to a recent study from Northwestern University's Spiegel Digital and Database Research Center.

The study, 'From Reviews to Revenue: How Star Ratings and Review Content Influence Purchase', sponsored by PowerReviews, found that shoppers are more likely to purchase a product that has a four-star rating than one with three stars, but that products with five stars arouse suspicion that they are too good to be true.

"While previous research has established that ratings and reviews are influential in purchase decisions, we set out to investigate the circumstances under which they are most influential," said Tom Collinger, executive director of the Spiegel Research Center. "In our analysis, we found that not only are five star reviews not ideal for today's skeptical shoppers, but that ratings and reviews carry more weight for items that require a higher level of consideration."

Instead, purchase likelihood peaks when a product's star rating averages between 4.2 and 4.5 and begins to drop off as the star rating approaches 5. A smattering of negative views is also beneficial, fostering consumer trust in the legitimacy of the review.

The study found that star ratings were particularly important to shoppers researching products with a higher consideration factor, such as new products or where there is a risk factor such as safety or expense.

Image via Shutterstock

Tags: ecommerce, reviews, star rating

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