Trusting Consumer Reviews

The internet has allowed anyone and everyone to share their opinion about anything and everything — including their experience with the products they have purchased. Over half of internet users seek out consumer reviews before they purchase an item, with the hope that their experience will be similar to that of the person writing a glamorous review.

Studies have shown that 72% of people find online reviews to be just as trustworthy as personal recommendations. While seeking out information before making a choice is smart shopping, a decision should not be made based on consumer reviews alone. In recent years, some companies have given away free merchandise in exchange for reviews. There is no evidence to prove that consumers were told to write a positive review, but they were more inclined to give them benefit of the doubt.

Despite the overwhelming numbers depicting how often online reviews are accessed, there are things potential consumers need to watch closely before trusting a review from a stranger.

  1. Glowing Results: First, check to see if all of the reviews are positive. This is not to say that a product cannot receive all positive reviews, but if they are over-the-top, then the reviewers may have an alternative motive for writing the review.
  2. Number of Reviews: Some products do not appeal to as large of a consumer base as others do, but if there is only one review of a product, you are not receiving the variety of experience you may need to make a decision. If there are few reviews of a product, do more research and comparisons to other brands before buying anything.
  3. Remember the Motive: Often times when people are not pleased with a product's performance, they are more inclined to write negative reviews than someone who found that same product to be useful. When people are upset, they are more likely to express their discontent with others and persuade them not to buy something. Just because a product has a couple of poor reviews does not necessarily mean that the item is not worth looking in to.
  4. Navigate to at least two different review websites before making conclusions. There are thousands of review platforms available on the web, so it would be wise to take advantage of them.
  5. Gather Research Elsewhere: Reading consumer reviews is a good idea. You can learn about the experience others had with a product and that can be beneficial when it comes time to purchase a product. However, do not come to a decision based on consumer reviews alone. If you do your homework, you will be much more satisfied with your results than if you expect someone else's exact experience to be yours.

Plain and simple, consumer reviews are helpful. But it's important that you remain skeptical and do more research on a product before purchasing it. You don't want to hold user reviews as fact, but rather as additional knowledge before purchasing something.