The number of reviews online, both for products and employment, are on the rise. Researchers claim that, while online shopping, for example, people are most likely to trust negative reviews as compared to the positive ones – even if the negative reviews come from untrustworthy sources or are biased in nature.
This is also why reviews, whether negative or positive, matter so much: There has been a shift in consumer behavior based on reviews. Bad reviews are increasingly bad for business.
Consider the following statistics:
- According to The Washington Post, 33 percent of Americans buy something online weekly.
- 75 percent of Americans preferred to do their holiday shopping last December through Amazon as surveyed by CNBC.
- As surveyed by Pew Research Centre in 2016, 82 percent of Americans say that they tend to read online reviews while shopping for new things.
- More than two-thirds of review readers believe that these reviews are honest and truthful.
There are a few reasons why people trust negative reviews.
Firstly, the number of negative reviews for any product generally will be far less than positive ones. So people think that as negative reviews are scarce, they are more reliable and valuable and pay more attention to them.
Secondly, human beings are worrisome in nature. When we are purchasing anything we want it to be perfect and do not want to suffer any losses, so if a negative review will highlight any defect in the product, we will assume it to be true.
Thirdly, five starred or perfect reviews are often fabricated and people are aware of this, so naturally, they are more inclined towards the negative ones.
A 2016 study published in The Journal of Consumer Research found that most online reviews are not credible. Not everyone writes reviews and those who do may differ greatly from the general population. Some of them are frequent buyers while for some their experiences may affect the way they view the product or service.
To look professional and expert in their fields some people write harsh reviews. Lastly, the reviews might entirely be fabricated. They may not even have used or bought the product and this becomes a great problem as consumers are unable to know the difference between actual and fake ones.
Research also shows that not all reviews are fake ones. People genuinely want to help others and are motivated by it. You just have to know some tricks to find that they are indeed honest and true.
- If a review is extremely good or extremely bad about something, it may not be true. This is because it may be written under extreme emotions or feelings. Try to look at those reviews that lie in the middle as they are more balanced and honest.
- If the review is negative try to compare it with yourself. Maybe the person’s preference doesn’t match with yours or the negative points he has mentioned are simply not negative or are acceptable for you.
- Look for detailed and thorough reviews. Do not just look at the stars or rating. Rather try to read the whole review first looking for facts and justification for the negative points
- Check out the reviewer’s profile. If the reviewer has written very limited say less than 10 reviews it may mean that he is on a paid job and writing under different names.
Ultimately, online reviews aren’t going away. However, the way people feel about them is evolving. It’ll be incumbent on platforms that publish reviews to protect the trust they currently enjoy with consumers. Not doing so means a slow death.