Learn From Your Customers

Why do people write reviews? What our research revealed

Tuesday, 18 May 2021
why do people write reviews?

Our consumer research and UX team has interviewed over 100 Trustpilot users to understand why consumers write and read reviews as part of ongoing research to improve our efforts and products.

In this two-part article, our UX analyst, Siri Shadduck, goes over the results and what the research revealed. Missed part one? You can find it here.

As we learned in part one of this article series, consumers read reviews because reviews:

  • Offer valuable guidance from people who’ve used the service or product

  • Make it easier for shoppers to decide

  • Attest to a company’s reliability

  • Indicate what’s the best and worse that could happen

  • Give consumers insight about product quality

  • Essentially, consumers read reviews because they trust reviews and they believe that reviews will help them make the right decisions when making a purchase or choosing a company.

But there’s another side to this formula. It’s easy to understand why people read reviews but what’s the motivation behind people that write reviews? That question will give us insight into the reviewer/review-reading dynamic to help us understand the changing environment of consumers - and how creation and consumption of reviews fit within that environment.

So, why do people write reviews?

Although many people need a nudge to write a review, there are lots of reasons why people write reviews of their own accord, too.

According to another recent consumer report from Trustpilot, the top three reasons customers write reviews are:

  • To help others make a better buying decision

  • To share an experience

  • To reward a company for good performance

This ranking held true for both men and women internationally. However, when we looked at this question by geography, a different story emerged. For U.S. customers, the primary motivation for 67% of consumers is simply sharing an experience, while in Europe, 65% of consumers are hoping to positively impact others' buying decisions.

Let's take a look at some of the highlights from our interviewees.

1. The emotional appeal

“Reviews are kind of like an on-demand emotional type of thing” – a surveyed shopper.

Ever heard the saying, ‘If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all’? While the sentiment behind this adage may be well intentioned, it doesn’t inform the psychology behind reviews.

Our research shows that consumers are more inclined to write reviews when the experience they’ve had strikes an emotional chord, whether positive or negative. If a consumer has had a very poor experience, they’ll write a review in order to vent frustration and anger, especially if they feel personally mistreated or wronged.

In the same manner, if a consumer has had an exceptionally good experience, they’re likely to applaud the company with a good review to help the company succeed. This is more frequently the case when the company is small and locally run.

2. Expression and empowerment

Not only are reviews reflective of a certain emotional tenor, they’re also, in their purest form, a means for consumers to express themselves. In the words of one reviewer: reviews are “a great way to voice your opinion and let people know about your experiences when dealing with companies and businesses around the country - fabulous!”

Essentially, reviews offer consumers a public outlet to voice their opinion. Reviews provide consumers a chance to tell their side of the story and have it heard by their peers and the businesses being reviewed.

Consumers feel empowered as their opinions put bad companies to shame, highlight companies that stand out amongst the crowd, and more broadly contribute to improving businesses everywhere.

3. I review therefore I am

Reviews can also serve to feed the ego, by giving reviewers the opportunity to be recognized and acknowledged by their peers.

By writing reviews, consumers can dispense their knowledge, show connoisseurship or expertise and thereby improve their standing in the eyes of their fellow shoppers. There’s a sense of satisfaction that comes from knowing what you’ve written has benefitted others. It’s a powerful feeling.

4. A sense of community

“[...]it's good that people have read my review. It helps influence their decision if they want to buy with the company or not." – a surveyed shopper.

By extension, review writing can foster a communal ethos, a sense of common stewardship. For many, reviews are a consumer’s chance to contribute to a good cause, so reviewers feel like they belong to a community of like minded people.

Taking part gives people a sense of kinship and integration.It’s nice to know that your opinion has the power to help others, and that together, you’re potentially making the world just a little bit better in your own way.

In conclusion...

When it comes down to it, we’ve found several motivations for writing reviews:

  • Venting frustrations if the experience was negative

  • Praising and helping the company if the experience was positive

  • Having a need to express oneself and feel empowered in doing so

  • Wanting to be recognized or acknowledged for having certain knowledge/taste

  • Feeling part of a community and wanting to give back

This coincides with the reasons we found as to why people read reviews. If consumers write reviews with honesty, passion, and a sense of community behind them, then consumers reading reviews also understand that reviews come from a place of honesty and trustworthiness.

Consumers trust reviews because they knew if they left a review, it would be honest and created to better inform future consumers. It’s a self-serving community in the best of ways and it can benefit businesses as well.

We know that reviews have many tangible benefits – they help businesses attain Google Seller Ratings , have helped clients improve their conversion rates and bottom lines, but the biggest benefit is that reviews help both consumers and businesses. Reviews ensure that the best businesses are rewarded by new and repeat consumers and businesses are encouraged to present themselves and their products in the best way possible.

Businesses should be taking a customer feedback or review management strategy into consideration but they should also adopt a customer-first business strategy. If businesses aren’t serving their customers well, their customers will find alternative options. By focusing on how to best serve customers, businesses will be rewarded with good reviews, and as a result, more business. Now that we understand the why and what of reviews, we can better serve our clients and the consumers relying on our reviews.

Find out why people write bad reviews, and how your business can learn from them to grow, improve, and innovate – read our 'Bad Reviews' report.


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