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How much do online reviews affect client decisions?

Published on 02 November, 2021

Where is the first place people go to get a sense of what a business is like, or to solidify their decision to purchase a particular product or service? The answer is very likely 'customer reviews'. Whether it's searching a company name on Google or looking at a review platform, reviews enable us to get a real sense of a business and how they treat their customers.

The effect of online reviews on consumer purchase behaviour is huge, and the figures speak for themselves. Feefo's Consumer Report, which polled 2,000 consumers, shows that 96% of people use reviews and consult them more frequently than social media, professional reviewers or comparison sites. In fact, 80% of consumers consider customer feedback as useful as getting advice from their friends and family. Reviews are so integral to the overall customer journey that they influence £23 billion in annual UK consumer spending.

We've put together some research-based insights to help you better understand the impact of reviews on customer behaviour and purchasing decisions.

Customer Perception Report - Narrow CTA

How do consumers use feedback?

UK consumers no longer rely solely on brands for information and recommendations about their products. Research shows that most people turn to other customers for feedback on all types of businesses, products and services. As many as 96% of people refer to reviews in some capacity. And 80% find online customer reviews just as helpful as advice from friends and family, with women (84%) taking the lead over men (76%) in finding reviews helpful.

But it isn't just customer reviews that consumers find useful. Feefo's research found that 53% of consumers also use online media, press and broadcast reviews to help inform their purchasing decisions.

How do reviews influence consumer priorities?

For most consumers, their priority is finding goods and services at the right price, regardless of what they are. Seven in ten consumers will likely compare online prices first before making a purchase. Alternatively, 64% refer to online customer reviews first, while 45% refer to star ratings. Perhaps surprisingly, consumers aren't so concerned with financial value. As many as 52% of people say they read reviews regardless of the purchase cost.

Do consumers care who the review authors are?

Most people aren't too concerned with who has authored the reviews. To them, the age, gender and background of the reviewer isn't important. However, consumers aged 18 to 24 are more concerned about the demographics of the reviewer, and 58% prioritise the reviews of those authors who have shared their profile. Consumers are generally more suspicious of entirely positive reviews, while 67% find it important that reviewers are named, with 44% saying they only trust reviews from named authors.

What's the effect of negative online reviews on consumer purchase behaviour?

It's not just positive customer feedback that plays a crucial role in the customer journey. Negative feedback is also important. Interestingly, over half of consumers (around 52%) admit to being suspicious if there are no negative reviews. This is particularly apparent in the over-65 age group. Furthermore, 72% of consumers will read numerous negative reviews to compare what they say and determine if they cover the same issues.

Some people (19%) admit to reading negative reviews before they read anything else. However, that doesn't mean that this negative feedback will put them off. In fact, only 23% of consumers say that one bad review would stop them from purchasing, even when most of the reviews they'd read were positive.

What motivates customers to share feedback?

Our research found that in most cases, consumers share reviews after having a positive experience. But people will post negative feedback if they're unhappy with the service or product they received. Consumers in the 18 to 24 age group are most likely to post a review after receiving poor service.

The data below shows the percentage of people who will leave a review following different experiences.

  • Good customer service: 61%
  • Poor customer service: 47%
  • Great product quality: 58%
  • Poor quality product: 36%
  • Unhappy with price: 28%
  • Disagree with other reviews: 14%

As we already know, customer experience impacts customer loyalty. However, 36% of consumers say that the quality of a product is the key reason they stick to a brand. Just over one in five (22%) cite price as the most important aspect, while 15% say customer experience is the most important factor for maintaining customer loyalty.

Customer Experience - SM CTA

Consumer review regret

Given how important customer reviews are in influencing purchasing decisions, it's perhaps unsurprising that 51% of consumers regret not reading reviews before making a purchase. Women are more likely to regret not checking reviews first, at 55%, while 69% of 18 to 24-year-olds and 63% of 25 to 34-year-olds also regret not informing themselves of reviews left by others. Older consumers, especially those over 65, are less likely to ignore customer reviews, with just 17% of this age group admitting to not reading reviews before purchasing, and subsequently regretting it later on.

The type of sector and product purchased also has an impact on the levels of regret. Our research found that 40% of shoppers are likely to regret a clothes purchase if they haven't consulted the reviews, increasing to 49% among consumers aged 18 to 24. Despite the cost of booking a holiday, 21% of consumers admit to not having read any reviews before going on holiday. However, just 9% of people wish they'd looked at feedback before buying a car.

Interestingly, the more often a person shops, the more likely they will regret their purchase afterwards. While 59% of daily or weekly online shoppers have ignored reviews only to suffer buyer remorse later, this drops to 35% for those who shop less frequently online.

Are consumers concerned about fake reviews?

The issue of fake reviews has increasingly come under the spotlight. While 72% of consumers are concerned about fake reviews, people are not as worried as they have been previously. Consumers can increasingly recognise verified reviews, with 50% saying they are more likely to trust a business or product if a company like Feefo verifies reviews. Here are some other statistics:

  • 49% of consumers only trust detailed reviews
  • 40% of consumers want reviews to be verified and sound genuine
  • 38% of consumers are more likely to trust a review if it includes a photo of the product
  • 23% of consumers do not trust any anonymous reviews

Customer Reviews CTA Big

As these insights show, customer reviews are a crucial resource that businesses cannot afford to ignore. With as many as 96% of shoppers using reviews to help them make their buying decisions, consumers are becoming far savvier and better equipped to spot paid-for and scripted reviews.

To find out more about what Feefo reviews can do for your business or how you can get started with sharing your reviews, just get in touch.

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