You can be on Entrepreneur’s cover!

Consumers View 5-Star Reviews as Too Good to Be True Northwestern University's Spiegel Research Center analyzed how user reviews affect consumer purchasing decisions, and what they found may surprise you.

By Catherine Clifford

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Shutterstock

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

Catherine Clifford

Senior Entrepreneurship Writer at CNBC

Catherine Clifford is senior entrepreneurship writer at CNBC. She was formerly a senior writer at Entrepreneur.com, the small business reporter at CNNMoney and an assistant in the New York bureau for CNN. Clifford attended Columbia University where she earned a bachelor's degree. She lives in Brooklyn, N.Y. You can follow her on Twitter at @CatClifford.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Business News

The 'Silver Tsunami' Meets 'Golden Handcuffs' as Past Low Mortgage Rates Lock in Homeowners — Whether They Like It or Not

The resulting lower supply of homes, and population growth outpacing construction, has led to a 7.2 million home shortage.

Business News

These Are the Busiest Airports in the World, According to a New Ranking

A surge in international and business travel has brought airports back to near pre-pandemic levels of passenger traffic.

Business News

Nike Responds to Criticism Over U.S. Women's Olympic Uniforms: 'Everything's Showing'

The company is the official outfitter for the U.S. Olympic track and field athletes.