Why Consumers Read Reviews: 5 Research-Backed Reasons

Have you ever wondered why consumers read reviews?

It’s an interesting question. But if you run a business, it’s a topic that needs your attention if you want to better understand your customers.

E-commerce sites like Amazon have now integrated reviews with product listings, review platforms have become high-traffic sites, and all shopping-related Google searches pull up reviews for local businesses and products.

Reviews are unavoidable in today’s world.

But that’s not the reason consumers read them; consumers read them because they want to.

Understanding why, however, is the key to upping your review strategy.

So let’s break down the psychology behind reading reviews. We’ve provided five research-backed reasons that will help you better understand your customers and fine-tune your review strategy.

So Why Do People Read Reviews?

1. For Trustworthy Guidance

We live in a world of information. Advertising is everywhere and answers are available at your fingertips. It’s easy to access information – but it’s not always easy to know whether it can be trusted.

Reviews, however, are a well-known trusted source for consumers in an ever-expanding pool of online information.

And because the internet has also increased market competition, reviews offer clear guidance when it comes to decision making.

It makes sense: reviews are the matter-of-fact opinions of ordinary customers who have had hands-on experience with a product, service, or business. So, naturally, consumers view reviews as online information that’s authentic.

And due to that, it helps speed up the buying process. For consumers, looking at reviews is a quick and reliable way to compare products, assess value for money, and ensure needs will be met.

So it’s no surprise reviews have become their go-to online resource.

2. Finding Product Specifics

Did you know that reviews can sometimes sell your products and services better than you can?

Reviews can shed light on specifics that customers want to know – and that information can be a customer’s selling point.

The research checks out, as 82% of consumers report that a review’s content had convinced them to make a purchase.

These small but important details might include sizing, product appearance, user features, taste, staff friendliness – details that aren’t described on your website, or even details that you didn’t know about your products or business.

Even negative comments can sell, as a drawback for one customer—such as a tight shoe fit—can be a benefit for another. For this reason, customers will also use a review site’s search function to sift for information they want to find in reviews.

So consumers don’t just read reviews to get a general idea of a product or service; they also read them to get a more informed, realistic idea.

It’s the reason why detailed reviews are more valuable to customers and businesses than reviews that are brief or lack context.

Why Consumers Read Reviews: 5 Research-Backed Reasons

3. Reading Customer Experiences

Experiences reign supreme in today’s world. It’s no longer marketing that sells vacations or restaurant bookings, for example, but the stories told by customers who have experienced them first-hand – including all the niceties and nuances customers love to hear about.

And the same applies to products and services. Reviews tell stories that can inspire other customers to experience the same kind of satisfaction and success, as 68% of consumers are willing to pay more for products and services from a brand they know will offer a good customer experience.

So the end-to-end customer experience with a business is a story customers want to hear, from touchpoints like website user-friendliness and order updates to customer support, product packaging, and post-sale interactions.

Reviews put these inspiring personalized experiences out in the open. And not just individually, but collectively as a story that tells your business’s successes, failures, and improvements – factors that increase business authenticity.

4. Sizing Up Business Reputation

Online reputation is everything for businesses nowadays. And the fact is, it’s a business’s online reviews that serve as a prominent banner of reliability and credibility.

And since reviews dish up honest customer opinions, customers look to them for insights on how a business treats, accommodates, and values customers from the first point of interaction to the last.

Research shows that 94% of consumers have avoided a business after noticing a poor review. Positive reviews, on the other hand, make at least 72% of consumers trust a local business more.

In a similar way, customers also look at star ratings as a snapshot of a business’s overall reputation. And it’s this first impression, encountered on search results pages or review sites, that will lose or pique their interest.

5. Assessing Review Responses 

It’s true: consumers, as much as 89% of them, read the review responses of businesses. This factors into online reputation management and can reflect badly on a business if a customer sees that it doesn’t respond to any of its reviews.

In fact, a consumer review survey found that 89% of consumers are “highly” or “fairly likely” to use a business that responds to reviews, with 57% being “not very” or “not at all” likely to use a business that doesn’t respond to reviews.

The reason is simple: the contents, tone, and noticeable effort of a business’s review responses can be major indicators of how much a business acknowledges its customers, values their opinions, and takes responsibility for issues and mistakes. 

So this is another important reason consumers read reviews; it’s a window into the importance a business places on communication and care, something that will give customers the confidence to buy and know they’re in good hands. 

The Bottom Line? Businesses Need To Get More Reviews

To sum it up, consumers read reviews to find information they can trust. And now more than ever, it’s trust that has the most power to convert and sell. 

So if you manage a business, all the above points to one thing: your business needs to get more reviews. Without them, prospective customers will be more suspicious of your business, making it difficult to convert customers from the outset. 

But now that you know why customers read reviews, you’ll also have a better idea of why it’s vital to get more of them.

This is where ReputationStacker can help. It’s a tool proven to generate real customer reviews for businesses of all sizes, using an effective communication funnel that streamlines the entire review writing process for all major review sites.

So give prospective customers more reasons to trust your business – start using ReputationStacker.

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Ian Kirby has been working in digital marketing for over 15 years. Having worked both with and for digital marketing agencies and in-house with multiple companies, he has a specific interest and expertise in online reputation management, online reviews, and the implementation of business systems. Ian’s writing, videos, and interviews have garnered millions of reads, views, and listens.

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