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Sentiment analysis for product reviews: what is it? Why should we use it?

Published on 04 February, 2021

What is product sentiment analysis?

Businesses now have access to more data on their customers, their products and their services than ever, so there’s no excuse for not continually improving everything they have to offer. But all the data in the world makes no difference if genuine, tangible intelligence is not gained from it for the business to meaningfully work with – and that’s where Feefo’s Performance Profiling tools come in. One of these tools is Sentiment Analysis, and its potential to transform your business development should be not be underestimated.

What is sentiment analysis?

Sentiment Analysis refers to the analysis of natural language and text to identify, extract, study and understand qualitative information from it. In the case of sentiment analysis for product reviews online, this analysis works through the written reviews given and analyses how people are feeling about the product(s) in question, identifying how positively or negatively they rate the product as well as identifying any key issues or themes throughout the reviews. Sentiment Analysis is just one output of gathering customer insights. Wider customer insight gathering and customer surveys can help gain plenty of information from those actually using a business’ products, but applying a sentiment analysis to this collected data is the way to extract genuine workable intelligence from it.

How is sentiment analysis useful for businesses, and why should my business use the tool?

Sentiment analysis can be used in a whole host of ways by businesses and can inform their paths to market, product development, customer experience improvement and business development. A sentiment analysis tool can be applied to any genuine written communication from customers about the brand, product, service or experience. In the case of Feefo’s Performance Profiling tool, this applies to product reviews. Wider customer insight gathering and customer surveys can help gain plenty of information from those using a business’ products, but applying a sentiment analysis to this collected data is the way to extract workable intelligence from it.

Sentiment Analysis offers a range of handy benefits for companies utilising it. This includes, but is by no means limited to:

Understanding the qualities of a product through customers’ eyes

In almost every circumstance, third parties such as customers will hold differing views, thoughts, opinions and emotions on their experience compared to those of someone who works for the company involved. Even for the biggest and most engaged of brands, customers are often able to shed light on a viewpoint that would otherwise go unrecognised and undeveloped – which can result in customers’ needs, wants and expectations going unmet.

Consider the ‘New Coke’ launch of the 1980s. A drink launched with no customer demand simply driven out of competitive spirit. Also, the attempted domination of personal devices with Facebook’s ‘Home’ development. Both could have been easily avoided by asking and better understanding what customers wanted from their brands.

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Prompted decision making for potential product improvements and/or launches

Once customer sentiment is understood thoroughly, a business can meet expectations, needs and wants to best develop their own product, service and experience portfolio to meet – and exceed – customer expectations. This can aid the decision-making processes throughout the business, using true customer data and insights to inform decisions. If they can do this successfully, they'll gain the competitive advantage.

The best business decisions are informed ones, and sentiment analysis offers the information required to make them. Feefo customer frozen-food giant Iceland have used the insight gathered from over 31,000 customer reviews to guide their marketing campaigns and have seen a successful increase in customer engagement as a result.

A better understanding of appropriate budget allocation and ROI opportunities

The formulation of most conclusive business decisions will result in some kind of financial spend, so it's important that the data informs this. A well-understood and properly applied sentiment analysis will allow decision-makers in the company to appropriately and relevantly allocate spend, investment and budgetary limits, as well as to better judge ROI and profit forecasts. Informed financial decision making is basic good business – and will make banks, investors and other economic backers happy too.

How does the Feefo Sentiment Analysis tool work?

The Feefo Sentiment Analysis tool is part of the wider Performance Profiling. Once complete, the business receives the full analysis data as well as a comprehensive report detailing its findings.

Of the volumes of consumer-generated opinions displayed in a business’ independent Feefo reviews, the sentiment analysis tool works to understand trends and themes throughout the content and extract actionable insights from it. The tool is capable of processing and extracting thousands of reviews.

The Performance Profiling program works by utilising industry-leading natural language processing algorithms to identify and extract words and themes both positive and negative in light. Combining these words with other associated terms and plurals provides a more complete picture and can then discard anything unrelated or with little value. From here, the program works to recognise positive, negative and neutral sentiment and can grade it, as well as providing any common or recurring themes.

Sentiment analysis for product reviews works with several key concepts that are referred to in the initiation and reporting process. These include:


In this context, a topic refers to a word or group of words considered significant to the review of the brand, product, service or experience. For example, this may be a purely sentimental or emotive topic such as 'amazing', 'incredible', 'poor' or 'too expensive', or could relate to a recurring theme that the review author (customer) considers important, such as ‘delivery’, ‘packaging’ or ‘service received’.

Topic coverage

Topic coverage takes the overall content of relevant and/or appropriate customer reviews and calculates the percentage of all content that mentions the topic. This can give a high-level indication of customer satisfaction. For example, 60% of reviews refer to the product as 'brilliant' or 40% of customers who have left reviews refer to the service as 'poor value'. It's can also show evidence of themes that require addressing, correcting or developing. For example, 30% of reviews include the topic 'slow service' or 70% of reviews indicate they would 'like to buy again'.

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Mentions refers to the number of times a topic can be found in the content of customer’s reviews. Depending on how the data is to be used, businesses may find a number more appropriate to refer to than a percentage. For example, 'over 1,000 independent customer reviews raved about our service’s speed!' compared to '25% of customer reviews lauded our service’s speed!'.

Sentiment score

The sentiment analysis’ ultimate rating is the sentiment score which - in the case of Feefo’s Performance Profiling tool - is a label or numerical value indicating the topic’s strength of sentiment. This score is given on a scale of +100 (very positive) to -100 (very negative), and in the final report is mapped onto a graphic. This graphic displays at a glance the overall sentiment score and the number of topic mentions of a certain sentiment. How the sentiment score is calculated and displayed is done differently for products and services, to allow for bespoke management and analysis that sits appropriately with the individual brand.

Broadly speaking, the sentiment score can be judged as the following:

  • +100 to +60, very positive, positive sentiment
  • +60 to +25, positive, positive sentiment
  • +25 to -25, neutral, neutral sentiment
  • -25 to -80, negative, negative sentiment
  • -80 to -100, very negative, negative sentiment

Whilst of course a neutral or negative Sentiment Score may be stressful upon initial analysis, it should actually serve as a fantastic catalyst for action and improvement. Once issues, gripes or otherwise unconsidered concerns are identified, they can be worked upon to improve satisfaction and sentiment in ways that otherwise would have been overlooked.

Sentiment analysis for product reviews is a powerful tool for business development and maintenance and should not be underestimated. Once complete, the comprehensive review report (either a Product Performance Report or Service Performance Report, dependent on which is most appropriate to the brand’s area under inspection), gives an easy, immediate indication of the most positive and negative opinions expressed by customers alongside a more in-depth analysis of potential highlights, issues and/or concerns. This customer intelligence is gained without the need for further customer survey or questioning, but the business may choose to proceed with further investigation if more specific data is needed.

Feefo’s team are able to advise and make recommendations based upon how to start and work with sentiment analysis alongside other tools in the Performance Profiling suite of programs, and can offer a free Feefo demonstration constructed entirely bespoke for you and your business.


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