Why positive reviews aren’t always a good thing

Clearly a glowing review from one of your customers is the holy grail, right? Wrong!

New research due to be published in The Journal of Consumer Behaviour later this year conducted by academics from Stanford and Boston University reveals quite the opposite.

Whilst a negative review is bad on every level, wholly positive ones can also be off putting. Especially if they conform to defacto settings e.g. five stars followed by the word ‘excellent’.

The research proves that reviews that show both the positive and negatives are actually more compelling.

Firstly because the author has clearly put thought into weighing up the positives and negatives, but also because they are more believable.

There are very few products and services out there that have absolutely no flaws.

So what does this mean for marketers? Quite a lot actually.

If you are a brand that actively encourages reviews from customers you should provide them with some instruction and suggestions. Ask them to consider both the pros and cons and don’t give them the option just to rate you using the star system as this provides little to no insight for potential customers at the top end of the scale.

Consumers use reviews at the evaluation stage of the customer journey and they are often the tipping point that leads to a purchase decision. The old adage ‘less is more’, doesn’t apply. Shoppers respond more favourably to long reviews – again because it suggests that review has made an effort.

This is why the word count for reviews should not be limited to just 60 or 100 words, as is often the case.

Let reviewers have their say.

These are just two of the insights to have come out of this study, but clearly understanding how consumer react to different types of review is fundamental in today’s digitally enhanced consumer environment.

This is particularly true when related back to the customer journey and underpinned with data-led insight to optimise that journey.

Consequently, we for one are looking forward to the whole report, due out in October.

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