08 Dec 2020
03 Nov 2020
13 Oct 2020
- CheckoutSmart research (3,710 online grocery shoppers)
Clearly the average "star rating" is the most important element, with the number of reviews, second. The date of last review or "recency" is a close third, and then the "text of last review" after this the "disclaimer" and "headline" are a distant 5th and 6th.
This seems to contradict our comment above that the number of reviews is more important than the average rating. We believe this is because this question is too far from the real experience of the virtual supermarket shelf. When asked in isolation the respondent's rational brain says "star rating" as this is for this one product. In reality, shoppers are much more likely to be using ratings & reviews to help choose between two similar products. This was the scenario we researched next.
For this, we presented online grocery shoppers with six random alternative scenarios from a total of 24, where the star rating and the number of reviews were relatively close but in the opposite direction, i.e. one product had a higher star rating but lower number of reviews and vice versa.
The "blank" in the image on the right was filled with their favourite online retailer (a question from earlier in the survey).
The 22,260 responses to these questions were then analysed to understand the relative share of choice - or market share if you prefer - for each product (Product A or Product B). The alternatives test included 6 average star ratings and 4 reviews = 24 options.
Note: Product A with an average star rating of 3.5 from five reviews vs. Product B with an average star rating of 3.7 from two reviews.
The results showed a clear preference for choosing the SKU with more reviews:
In 5 out of 6 pairings more than 75% of online grocery shoppers would choose the products with a lower average star rating but more reviews. The only exception was for 3.7 vs. 4.0 where it was still 62%.
The average star rating comparison of 3.7 vs. 4.0 proved to be an outlier across all ratings alternatives. We believe it is because it is comparing across the 3 vs. 4 boundary, which we can see here:
So when the number of reviews comparison is greater than 5 vs, 2, it looks like the psychological barrier between average ratings of 3.. and 4.. is more important to online grocery shoppers when deciding between two similar products, than a small number of reviews. However, this is an outlier:
In all other cases there is a strong preference for the product with the lower average star rating, with an average of 2/3 choosing this combination vs. only 1/3 for the one with the higher average star rating.
This preference for the lower average star rating begins to fade beyond 30 reviews, as you can see when we add in the 30 vs. +50 reviews alternative.
For this amount of review alternatives, the average product choice is exactly 50% across all of the average star ratings, so the number of reviews is still having an impact. This correlates with other research we have seen, highlighting that the impact of increasing number of reviews begins to tail off after 30. Of course it does have an impact beyond that, but it is significantly more important to get your online product reviews up to 30 than to drive them beyond that.
The main reason for adding reviews beyond 30 becomes not because you want more reviews per se, but because of review freshness. Once you have more than 30 online supermarket product reviews on all your products in all the retailers, it is now important to keep those reviews fresh.
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