Money Matters – But Do Reviews?

As many of us are ravenous shoppers, there’s a better-than-average chance that reviews have played some role in the products we’ve picked up recently, whether that’s a tin opener or a new car. Unfortunately, the internet has given everybody a platform for their thoughts, good or bad, so it’s not always easy to see which voices are the most useful from a consumer perspective. Humans aren’t always the most objective thinkers, after all.

Money Matters

Just to reinforce that latter point, Lehigh University in Pennsylvania claims that “any” happenings in the brain are bias due to “subjective forces”, meaning that we’re prone to stereotyping things according to our own values and goals. What this means is that people who value a frugal existence might have an innate – even unconscious – dislike for high fashion, just because it’s expensive by definition.

With money matters being a frequent recipient of newspaper ink, the importance that shoppers place on accurate reviews is growing. Dropshipping company Oberlo notes that nine out of ten shoppers seek out reviews before buying from a new company and that 49% of readers trust them as much as a recommendation from a friend. The average number of reviews that people consume before buying is four. 

What might seem a little strange, given the internet’s notoriety for causing arguments, is that most reviews come from happy people. Citing SEO firm BrightLocal, the previous source adds that 61% of buyers leave their thoughts on a product after receiving good service. A positive experience also has a way of undoing previous wrongs. Just over a third of shoppers (37%) leave a good review if a previous slight has been undone.

Highly Competitive Industries

So, what about expert reviews? The good news about professional commenters is that they have something to say about everything. For instance, organisations such as Which? and the BBC’s Watchdog program aim to guide consumers through their shopping journey without the poison fog of bias. As mentioned though, this can be a tricky thing to do, especially for TV networks, which tend to have their own audience demands.

In a similar vein, comparison sites provide a valuable service to shoppers, especially to those who are either coming off an expired product, such as travel insurance or mobile phone tariffs, or approaching a space for the first time. This type of thing can be especially important in highly competitive industries, where it may not be easy to tell one operator for another. Loans are a good example, as are bank accounts. It’s also crucial for businesses that offer a luxury service, as they’re putting themselves on the market as a provider of high-quality, and their reviews must reflect that.

In entertainment, the world of casino gaming has been both blessed and cursed with a bounty of different products too. This is evident in a recent review of the popular online casino MrQ, which receives a 5-star bonus score from Bonusfinder. For more info on this review and other casino reviews you can check out 

“Subject Matter Experts”

In a sea of voices, like on Amazon, where even a 12-pack of Walkers crisps can attract over a thousand reviews, expert opinion tends to end up lost. In many ways, this has forced professional appraisal into its own specialised corner, such as in the example above. However, shoppers’ desire for an informed opinion comes with its own set of conditions.

A chart produced by Statista seems to imply that a word from the wise is invaluable in two cases. Firstly, when something is expensive and, secondly, when it comes with strings, i.e. long contracts. As far as the expense is concerned, consumers are most likely to consult with “subject matter experts” when they’re buying electronics (44% of the time), cars (40%), beauty products (32%) and items for the home (28%). 

Financial services (44%) occupy the second grouping. This includes bank accounts, loans, insurance and other products that people can’t easily get away from if they change their minds. Everyday purchases such as groceries and clothes aren’t likely to require much thought at all, according to the same study. That might sound a little strange, as the concept of taste plays a large role in both sets of purchases, and is highly subjective.

Unfortunate Strength

The question that needs to be answered is, if we’re all biased towards one thing or another, how valuable can reviews possibly be? In the example of Amazon’s crisp marketplace, such a vast number of opinions eventually gives the consumer a pretty good idea of Walkers’ overall quality. The ReputationStacker website claims that just 20 reviews is the magic number for an accurate picture though. 

There is a caveat. Referring to a “secret ratio”, an article from suggests that a single negative review requires 40 positive ones to undo, a statement that hints at the unfortunate strength of angry customers. Disappointed people ultimately hint at an element of risk in every purchase. For instance, Amazon recently sent an iPhone buyer a pack of dog food instead. It took a BBC investigation to get a refund, and you can check out their report here.

That’s an extreme scenario but online customers are easily put off. Shopify, quoting Baymard Institute, notes that 69.57% of all shopping baskets with something inside are abandoned by their owner before they reach the checkout. On mobile, that figure is 85.65%. Ignoring the strength of reviews for a moment, potential buyers flee for all sorts of reasons, including being too lazy to find their credit card.

Overall, customers’ need for advice depends entirely on what customers are trying to buy. Expert reviews are always welcome but negative opinions carry a lot of weight in the marketplace.

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