Online Reviews

Consumers View 5-Star Reviews as Too Good to Be True

Consumers View 5-Star Reviews as Too Good to Be True
Image credit: Shutterstock
Senior Entrepreneurship Writer at CNBC
2 min read

As the cliche goes, perfect is the enemy of the good.

While business owners may obsess over each and every user review of their company’s products or services, desperate for the perfect five-star rating, a new study shows that consumers are most attracted to products with an average rating of between 4.2 and 4.5.

That’s because consumers are skeptical of perfect ratings, according to the study from Northwestern University’s Spiegel Research Center. Consumers see a perfect user review and assume that it’s “too good to be true,” says the report.

“As counterintuitive as it may seem, negative reviews have a positive impact because they help establish trust and authenticity,” the report says. “Consumers understand that a product can’t be all things to all people, and they appreciate negative reviews as an important element in their decision-making process.” More than 80 percent of consumers actually look for a negative review in their research, according to the report.

Related: How Learning Where Shoppers Browse Online Helps Businesses Make the Sale

For the study, Northwestern University’s Spiegel Research Center used data from ratings and review company PowerReviews. The data analyzed came from 22 product categories encompassing 111,460 SKUs across multiple ecommerce platforms.

The report also found reviews matter more when there is a “higher level of consideration,” which includes purchasing more expensive items like appliances, electronics and computers. The study also showed that consumers are more likely to seek out reviews when they are deliberating over a purchase they perceive has some element of risk, and if reviews are on the short side, they will look at many, as opposed to if they are longer, they will only read a few.

The report also discovered that it’s worth it to send a follow-up prompt to your consumers after they make a purchase, asking them to leave a review.  According to PowerReview data, four out of five user reviews are left after being prompted.

Related: With an Empathy Button, Facebook Will Be Even More Valuable to Advertisers

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