Consumers want up-to-date online reviews
In BrightLocal’s annual study of online reviews, recency (the number of the recent reviews) overtook star ratings as the most important factor consumers pay attention to in judging online reviews.
Asked how recent an online review has to be to affect their decision, 48 percent said less than two weeks old, up from 40 percent from the prior year. Seeing reviews within two weeks was much more important for 18- to 34-year-olds (61 percent) and 35- to 54-year-olds (60 percent) than those over 55 (21 percent). Seventy-six percent of the 55-and-over crowd, however, still expect reviews to be from the last three months.
BrightLocal wrote in the report, “It’s no longer enough to get a few reviews to get you to a five-star rating, then stop. Ongoing reputation management is necessary to continue getting reviews to impress consumers and assure them that the experience they read about is still valid.”
A business’s overall star rating was still barely behind recency as a determining factor. Only 53 percent of respondents would consider using a business with less than four stars. Quantity of reviews, legitimacy, sentiment, whether a business responds to reviews and length and detail also ranked as important to many consumers when evaluating reviews.
Overall, the study showed online reviews continuing to play a bigger role in the purchase decision process.
Other findings from the report:
- Eighty-two percent of consumers read online reviews for local businesses, with 52 percent of 18- to 54-year-olds saying they “always” read reviews;
- The top industries for online reviews are restaurants, grocery stores, medical, clothing stores and hotels;
- Positive reviews make 91 percent of consumers more likely to use a business, while 82 percent are put off by negative reviews;
- The average consumer reads 10 reviews before feeling able to trust a business;
- The average consumer spends 13 minutes and 45 seconds reading reviews before making a decision;
- Two-thirds of consumers have written reviews for local businesses, and the average reviewer wrote nine reviews in 2019;
- Among consumers that read reviews, 97 percent read businesses’ responses to reviews.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Why has recency become a more critical factor in reviews, and what challenges does that place on retailers and food establishments? What advice would you have around online reviews and ongoing reputation management?