The Impact of Product Review Recency on the Path to Purchase
Having a high volume of product reviews helps consumers' purchase decisions, ranking above other important elements, including price and recommendations from family and friends. However, substantial review volumes — in and of themselves — are no longer enough to satisfy shoppers on their path to purchase.
According to a new PowerReviews study, The Power of Review Recency and Volume, which incorporates survey results from more than 9,000 shoppers, the recency of product reviews is also critically important. Nearly 40 percent of consumers say they won’t make a purchase if product reviews are older than 90 days, and 62 percent won’t purchase if reviews are older than a year. Ideally, nearly half (44 percent) of consumers want access to reviews written within the past month.
Our research also found that 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 baby boomers.
Importance only increases when it comes to customer acquisition: 86 percent of shoppers consider review recency to be more important when considering a product or brand they haven’t purchased before. It provides an authentic reassurance of quality that's hard to replicate.
Retailers should take note as they often assume review recency isn’t as important as review volumes. Based on our research, this is clearly not the case: the recency factor is of equal importance to consumers. The key takeaway for retailers? Review collection is not a "one and done" activity; it must be an ongoing effort.
The survey also found that the majority of shoppers do their homework prior to purchase, with nearly 70 percent reading between one and 25 consumer product reviews. 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.
The bottom line is you need to factor in recency AND volume when thinking about your ratings and reviews program. Our aggregated consumer interaction data from across 1.5 million product pages shows the more reviews, the higher the conversion likelihood. Shoppers who are exposed to pages with 5,000 or more reviews are 296.2 percent more likely to convert than those exposed to pages with no reviews. Similarly, visitors exposed to pages with 5,000-plus reviews are also 122.1 percent more likely to convert than those exposed to pages with between one and 100 reviews.
This is also borne out in our survey results. Seventy-nine percent “always” or “regularly” consider review volumes, and 23 percent say products should ideally have more than 500 reviews. However, consumers are willing to settle for fewer. Nearly half (45 percent) say a product must have a minimum of 1 to 25 reviews for them to feel comfortable enough to purchase. Despite these high expectations, they actually read far fewer. The majority of shoppers — 69 percent — read between one and 25 reviews when considering a product.
For younger generations, reviews are especially critical: 80 percent of consumers say they're less likely to buy a product if it has no reviews, a number that's even higher — 92 percent — among Gen Z shoppers.
While our research highlights best and ideal case scenarios, it’s undeniable that consumers clearly have high expectations when considering review recency and volume. So even if the numbers mentioned here may seem beyond you, the key is being aware that they are critical concerns and building a review collection strategy accordingly. The more reviews you can capture at a regular frequency, the more products you'll sell and the more revenue you’ll generate.
Andrew Smith is vice president of marketing for PowerReviews, and an experienced e-commerce technology marketer.