Our new research shows more people are likely to trust product reviews from other customers, than industry experts, professional reviewers, and companies or brands.

We surveyed 2,000 UK adults to find out everything from where, when and why people leave reviews, to what makes a useful review.

Who do people trust online?

Unsurprisingly, people are more inclined to trust a third party when shopping around for products and services:

  • Consumers are more likely to trust product reviews from other customers (84%), than industry experts (67%), professional reviewers (48%), and companies or brands (41%)
  • When asked specifically about taking out financial products such as credit cards, insurance, or loans, the top two influences were informative websites such as Which? or Money Saving Expert (44%) and family and friends (31%)
  • More people were likely to follow advice from customer reviews (23%) than from a financial advisor (17%)

Customer reviews are highly influential

Customer reviews have a substantial impact on consumers’ decision-making:

  • 68% of respondents claimed they would make a purchase after reading positive reviews for other customers
  • 69% would change their mind about a purchase after reading negative reviews
  • It would appear that no reviews at all can be just as damaging as poor reviews. 22% of people were put off buying something if there were no reviews available

Nearly three quarters of people are more likely to leave positive reviews

Whilst the assumption might be that people only leave a review when they’ve had a negative experience, the stats say otherwise:

  • When asked whether they tend to leave more negative or positive reviews, 72% went for positive
  • In fact, 27% of respondents leave reviews to give a company a better reputation, compared to just 7% who do it to bring down a reputation
  • Women were more likely than men to leave positive reviews, and over 55s were most likely to leave a positive review rather than a negative one compared to other generations
  • Men were twice as likely as women to leave a negative review in order to damage a company’s reputation

What motivates people to leave reviews?

Our research revealed there’s a real sense of community when it comes to customer reviews, with consumers particularly keen to help others out.

  • Half of respondents said they leave reviews in the hope that other customers will find them helpful. In particular, they believe they have a duty to make others aware of the pros and cons of a product or service
  • Over a third (36%) hope businesses will accept their feedback and change their products or services accordingly. 10% do so in the hope of getting a direct response from the company in question
  • 39% of respondents said they leave reviews simply because they’ve been asked to by the company, signalling a huge opportunity for businesses
  • One in five are more likely to leave a review if they can easily do so on their phone

Companies should also pay attention to the platforms on which they collect customer reviews, with 10% of respondents claiming they are more likely to leave a review on a site that has a user friendly interface.

Why do people read reviews?

  • New products or services (41%) and being unfamiliar with the company (41%) were the factors most likely to encourage shoppers to search for reviews
  • 38% read reviews when looking to invest in a product that they need to last a long time (38%)
  • Just over a third of respondents (34%) said they check reviews when the product or service is of a high value

A lot of choice of companies or products, and a product that costs more than expected were also driving factors.

How often do people leave reviews?

People are leaving reviews more frequently than you might think:

  • 61% have left a review in the past month
  • Almost a quarter of respondents (23%) had left a review in the past week

What makes a useful review?

When it comes to a useful review, the devil is in the detail, and context is key.

When it comes to reading other customers’ reviews, a paragraph or two was easily the most popular length (51%).

One person wrote: “A more in depth review which explains the context of their review rather than generalisation is much more useful and credible.”

What do customers expect after leaving a review?

There’s a huge potential for companies when it comes to collecting customer reviews, with insights shaping customer service and product improvements:

  • Over a third of people leaving reviews (36%) hope companies will accept their feedback and change their products or services accordingly
  • One in 10 do so in the hope of getting a direct response from the company in question

Our research revealed that people are genuinely keen to help other customers out, providing useful insights to help them reach the right decision. Even with negative reviews, the focus is on offering constructive criticism in the hope that improvements can be made.

This is great for consumers, as it raises standards, but it also offers a real opportunity for businesses too. Reviews can significantly increase sales, as well as provide valuable insights for driving improvements in all areas, from customer service, to product design. And best of all, in many cases, all they have to do is ask.

* Research was conducted by Opinium Research on behalf of Smart Money People between 7 - 14 October 2022 amongst 2,000 UK adults aged 18+.