Learn From Your Customers

How European consumers value reviews

Thursday, 30 May 2024

Customer star ratings and reviews are no longer a mere afterthought in Europe but a fundamental pillar in the shopping journey.  Across the continent, reviews consistently rank among the top three most influential touchpoints guiding European consumer behavior, alongside search engines.

This emphasis on transparency reflects a broader European sentiment. 75% of European consumers acknowledge the power of reviews in shaping their buying decisions. This makes sense when you consider that in 2020 alone, Google removed 55 million reviews for being untrustworthy.

According to Trustpilot’s 2024 Transparency Report, 82% of fake reviews were spotted and automatically removed by our technology throughout 2023 as we continue to improve our technology to prevent fraudsters. Our internal specialists removed 18% manually using enhanced assessment tools.

Recognizing this rising concern, the European Union enacted the Better Enforcement and Modernisation Directive in 2022.

This landmark legislation tightened the grip on misleading reviews, explicitly prohibiting the sale, purchase, and submission of fake reviews intended to manipulate product perception.  Individual EU member states have further adapted the Directive to align with their specific needs. 

For instance, France incorporated the Directive into its existing regulations, resulting in the French Digital Republic Act. This act enforces stricter regulations against deceptive online sales tactics employed by e-commerce platforms.

Trustpilot partnered with London Research to seek a deeper understanding of how reviews influence European consumers. 

We surveyed 3,000 Europeans across France, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands. 

This research delved into the impact of reviews on online advertising choices. Participants were presented with mock bank advertisements featuring Trustpilot reviews, reviews from competitor platforms, or no reviews.  The survey then gauged which ad would most likely entice them to click and potentially consider switching banks.

The results

The results revealed that around two-thirds of European consumers regard customer reviews (65%) and star ratings (63%) as either ‘very useful’ or ‘useful’ during the buying decision-making process, compared to only 41% for social media and 36% for TV advertising (Figure 1).  

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Figure 1

Our research shows that just under two-thirds of EU consumers say they’re at least occasionally influenced by both star ratings (62%) and customer reviews (63%) during the journey to purchase (Figure 2).

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Figure 2

Figures 1 and 2 show that consumers are influenced by a wide range of online and offline touchpoints before they decide to purchase something. In addition to customer ratings and reviews, the majority of EU consumers consider search engines, e-commerce sites, social media, email, company websites, online advertisements, TV and radio advertising, and direct mail useful to some degree. 

Google is the main influencer of buying decisions, with customer reviews and ratings a close second. Overall, a solid online reputation across these channels is a key motivator for buyers. 

With ratings and reviews wielding such powerful influence, marketers who grasp how to harness them across all channels hold a significant edge. This includes online and offline advertising, along with a brand's own digital properties and email marketing efforts. By strategically integrating reviews into these touchpoints, marketers can make data-driven decisions that demonstrably impact consumer behavior.

Where are reviews most popular?

Holidays and hospitality are the sectors in Europe where reviews matter most. A study by Statista found that when shopping for an online accommodation product, more than half of European consumers are influenced by online customer reviews and online ratings. In contrast, just one-fifth of consumers see themselves as insusceptible to such reviews and ratings. 

Two in five European holiday consumers also regard star ratings as an influencing factor when booking hotel rooms. In contrast, star ratings don’t play a role for about one in three consumers.

This is also reflected in our own research. As seen in Figure 3, most respondents found that reviews were ‘very useful’ in influencing their decision to purchase European holidays or travel excursions. 

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Figure 3

Key takeaways

  • European consumers trust reviews: Reviews are a major factor influencing buying decisions in Europe, with over 60% of Europeans finding them "very useful" or "useful." This makes them a more trusted source than social media or traditional advertising.

  • Fake reviews are a concern: The importance of authenticity is stressed. Europeans value genuine reviews, and the EU has taken steps to regulate misleading reviews.

  • Reviews impact online advertising: Ads featuring customer reviews are significantly more likely to grab the attention of European consumers compared to ads without them.

  • Reviews influence across industries: Customer reviews impact various sectors, from travel and hospitality to finance and fashion.

  • Trustpilot reviews hold weight: The study suggests Trustpilot reviews have a strong influence on European consumer decisions.

What’s next?

The future of review use in Europe is reflected in the worldwide view of customer feedback—it’s much needed. 93% of users say online reviews impacted their buying decisions.

For Trustpilot, this research has confirmed more than just the value of reviews in Europe; it has also examined the impact of Trustpilot reviews, particularly on consumer decision-making. 

We found that after seeing a series of digital advertisements from the fictitious banking brand featuring the Trustpilot logo, star ratings, and reviews, European consumers were almost three times more likely to interact with the advertisement. 

These results highlighted in the report prove that reviews are vital in positively shaping consumer journeys once authentic and verified, something Trustpilot ensures in every review we help collect. 

Make European consumer reviews work for you. Get a free demo with our experts. 


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