As communicators are increasingly aware, the majority of shoppers do their homework online prior to purchase, with nearly 70 percent reading between one and 25 consumer product reviews. But according to the latest research from conversion-first UGC vendor PowerReviews, some 44 percent of consumers want access to reviews written within the past month, and 38 percent won’t purchase a product if the only reviews available are older than 90 days—and most shoppers surveyed (86 percent) place even more importance on review recency when buying a product or brand for the first time.
In fact, the firm’s newly released Power of Review Recency and Volume study, which draws on insights from more than 9,000 active consumers and shopper behavior across 1.2MM product pages, shows review recency has become just as important as review volumes in the path to purchase.
“Brands and retailers often make the mistake of thinking that review recency isn’t as important as review volumes. Based on our survey results, this is clearly not the case: the recency factor is of equal importance to consumers,” said Andrew Smith, VP of marketing at PowerReviews, in a news release. “Essentially, review collection is not a ‘one and done’ activity: it’s something that needs to be an ongoing effort. And of course: if a brand or retailer is collecting a regular stream of review content, the overall volume continues to pay conversion dividends.”
Key findings include:
Product reviews have a commanding conversion influence on shoppers
- There’s a 296.2 percent lift in conversion among shoppers who are exposed to 5,000 or more reviews, when compared to those exposed to no reviews.
- Visitors exposed to 5,000+ reviews convert at a rate that’s 122.1 percent higher than those exposed to between one and 100 reviews.
Consumers value (and expect) recency in reviews
- 97 percent of consumers consider review recency to be at least somewhat important when considering a purchase.
- 64 percent of consumers are more likely to buy a product with fewer, more recent reviews than if it has a higher volume of reviews published three or more months ago. This number is even higher—69 percent—among Boomers.
- 86 percent of shoppers feel that review recency is more important when considering a product or brand they haven’t purchased before.
- Ideally, nearly half (44 percent) of consumers want access to reviews written within the past month.
Availability of recent reviews (or lack thereof) impacts purchase behavior
- Just over one-third (38 percent) won’t purchase a product if the only reviews are older than 90 days.
- 62 percent will not purchase a product if the only reviews available were published a year or more ago.
Shoppers pay attention to review volumes—and they have high expectations
- 79 percent of consumers consider the volume of reviews “always” or “regularly.”
- In an ideal world, 23 percent say products should have more than 500 reviews. However, they’re willing to settle for fewer. Nearly half (45 percent) say a product must have a minimum of 1-25 reviews for them to feel comfortable with the purchase.
- Consumers expect a lot of reviews, but typically read far fewer. The majority of shoppers—69 percent—read between one and 25 reviews when considering a product.
Reviews are critical for younger generations
- 80 percent of consumers are less likely to buy a product if it has no reviews. This number is even higher—92 percent—among Gen Z shoppers.
- 64 percent of consumers are more likely to purchase a product that has more than 1,000 reviews than one that has 100 reviews (assuming the average star rating is the same). Significantly more—80 percent—of Gen Z’ers say this is the case.
- Over half (54 percent) of consumers are more likely to purchase a product with 10,000 or more reviews than a product with 1,000 reviews. The percentage is even higher—73 percent—among Gen Z shoppers.
“At a time when the customer acquisition costs are high, it’s particularly notable that 86% of consumers find review recency to be more important when considering a brand or product they haven’t purchased before. It provides an authentic reassurance of quality that is hard to replicate,” Smith added.
“Review volume remains incredibly important to consumers. There is no optimal number when it comes to review volumes: it depends on the site, product and category. However, considering web visitors exposed to 5,000+ reviews convert at a rate that’s 296.2 percent higher than those exposed to no reviews, it really is a case of the more the merrier.”
The survey draws on responses from 9,012 shoppers aged 18-74 across the United States who have opted in to offers and discounts from retailers. The survey took place in November 2021. The research also evaluated shopping activity on more than 1.5MM online product pages across more than 1,200 brand and retailer sites between May 1 and Nov. 4, 2021.
Throughout the survey, we defined Boomers as born in the years 1946 to 1964 (aged 56-74 on Dec 31, 2020), Gen X as born in the years 1965 to 1980 (aged 40-55 on Dec 31, 2020), Millennials as born between 1981-1996 (aged 23-38 on Dec 31, 2020) and Gen Zers born in or after 1997 (ages 22 and younger on Dec 31, 2020).