Online Ratings & Reviews Preferences

Part
01
of four
Part
01

Product Review/Price Comparison Aggregators

A List of top 7 price/product comparison websites (engines) has been compiled based on their total number of site visits. We have also created a list of top 7 price comparison apps based on a total number of installs or downloads.

Top price/product comparison websites (engines) include: BizRate, CamelCamelCamel, Pronto, Shopzilla, PriceGrabber, Shopping.com, NexTag, and Google Shopping.

Top price comparison apps include: ShopSavvy, ScanLife, Pricena, PricePirates, BuyVia, Now Discount, and ShopMania.

METHODOLOGY

To answer your question, we first searched for the pre-compiled lists containing the top price comparison/product review websites/ aggregators (apps & websites/engines). Searching through trusted media articles, blog sites, and news articles we found few precompiled lists of top price comparison/product review websites/aggregators (apps and websites/engines). We then checked each of those websites using Similarweb to determine their total number of visits. Please note that Google Shopping has been ranked at number one in the list of top 10 Price Comparison Websites of 2018 by Shopify and has also been included as one of the top 25 best price comparison websites and apps of 2018 by Oberlo. But, we could not find the total number of visits particularly for Google Shopping, therefore, we could not include this in our list and provided its name at the bottom of the list.

For price comparison/product review app, we checked the Google Play Store, and other websites to find a total number of installs or downloads of each app. The price comparison websites were ranked by total number of visits as we could not find any public source revealing a total visits per year, after an extensive search. Therefore, we finally took the criteria to list websites based on total number of visits. The price comparison apps were ranked by a total number of downloads or installs and apps review.
Below we have outlined each of the top price comparison/product review websites, their total number of visits and top price comparison/product review apps, and their total number of installs or downloads.

LIST OF top price comparison/product review websites

1. BizRate
Total number of visits —15.70M

2. CamelCamelCamel
Total number of visits — 8.56M

3. Pronto
Total number of visits — 5.72M

4. Shopzilla
Total number of visits — 4.08M

5. PriceGrabber
Total number of visits — 1.50M

6. Shopping.com
Total number of visits — 884.74K

7. NexTag
Total number of visits — 678.42K
Google Shopping — Although Google Shopping has been ranked at number one in the list of top 10 Price Comparison Websites, we could not find the total number of visits particularly for Google Shopping so, we have not listed this in our list.

LIST OF top price comparison/product review app

1. ShopSavvy
Total number of installs — 10,000,000+
Reviews — 4.0 stars
Rating — 3+

2. ScanLife
Total number of installs — 10,000,000+
Reviews — 4.0 stars
Rating — 3+

3. Pricena
Total number of installs — 100,000+
Reviews — 4.6 stars
Rating — 3+

4. BuyVia
Total number of installs — 50,000+
Reviews — 3.8 stars
Rating — 12+

5. PricePirates
Total number of installs — 10,000+
Reviews — 3.8 stars
Rating — 3+

6. Now Discount
Total number of installs — 1,000+
Reviews — 4.6 stars
Rating — 3+

7. ShopMania
Total number of installs — 1,000+
Reviews — 4.1 stars
Rating — N/A

CONCLUSION

As requested, we have created a list of top 7 price comparison/product review websites based on a total number of visits. A list of top 7 price comparison/product review apps has also been provided based on a total number of installs or downloads.
Part
02
of four
Part
02

Product Review Sites

We were able to identify the seven most visited stand-alone product review sites in the U.S. This list is ranked by monthly traffic, however, as we were not able to locate credible data for annual website traffic. In addition to the listed seven, three alternative websites are mentioned due to their reputation, brand recognition, and/or monthly traffic. Any calculations will be explained below.

Top 7 Review Websites

The top seven review websites are ranked by average monthly traffic in the U.S. We have also calculated the annual traffic based off of these monthly averages. In descending order, they are the following:

1. Yelp — 40,000,000 visits/month (~ 480,000,000 visits/year)
2. TripAdvisor — 28,000,000 visits/month(~336,000,000 visits/year)
3. Opentable13,313,406 visits/month (~ 159,760,880 visits/year)
4. HomeAdvisor11,035,440 visits/month(~132,425,280 visits/year)
5. Yellowpages10,500,000 visits/month(~126,000,000 visits/year)
6. Manta — 6,480,000 visits/month (~ 77,760,000 visits/year)
7. BBB — 6,150,000 visits/month (~ 73,800,000 visits/year)

The following three websites are mentioned due to name recognition and reputation. Glassdoor is an exception as it gains more visits per month than the aforementioned websites. Though, because it is an employer review website we decided not to include it in the main list.

Glassdoor53,816,550 visits/month (~ 645,798,603 visits/year)
• Angie's List — 5,440,000 visits/month (~ 65,280,000 visits/year)
• Foursquare — 3,670,000 visits/month (~ 44,040,000 visits/year)

Calculations

The average monthly traffic information for Yelp, TripAdvisor, Yellowpages, Manta, BBB, Angie's List, and Foursquare were all pre-compiled in the source material. On the other hand, the Glassdoor, OpenTable, and HomeAdvisor average monthly traffic data had to be computed using figures from the past 6 months (Oct. 2017 – March 2018). They were calculated in the following manner:

[(Sum of monthly traffic for past 6 months) / 6] * (% U.S. traffic) = Monthly traffic average from the U.S.

The data used for these calculations may be accessed by clicking the figures in the list above (OpenTable, Glassdoor, and HomeAdvisor). Our calculations for each website are outlined below.

OpenTable

[(87800000) / 6] * (90.98%) = 13,313,406 visits/month

Glassdoor

[(410500000) / 6] * (78.66%) = 53,816,550 visits/month

HomeAdvisor

[(70200000) / 6] * (94.32%) = 11,035,440 visits/month

All annual traffic figures were calculated by multiplying the monthly traffic average by twelve.

Conclusion

We found that the top seven most visited review websites are Yelp, TripAdvisor, OpenTable, HomeAdvisor, Yellowpages, Manta, and BBB. These sites are ranked by average monthly traffic from the U.S. Other notable websites include Glassdoor, Angie's List, and Foursquare.
Part
03
of four
Part
03

Consumer Preferences, Product Review Sites

Compared to 88% in 2014, 92% of consumers now read online reviews and 68% say they rely on reviews to decide whether a business is trustworthy. According to sources, consumers appear to prefer single-format review sites and stand-alone reviews to aggregate review scores. Star reviews and written content appear to be the most popular review formats for consumers, while a multitude of factors contribute to the level of trustworthiness perceived in a review. Reviews that are written in a "marketing style", short reviews, long reviews with flowery language and sensational titles, are perceived as untrustworthy. Furthermore, third party review websites are deemed more trustworthy than official business website reviews, and while recommendations are seen as trustworthy, multiple sources suggest that online reviews are perceived as equally trustworthy to personal recommendations. Finally, the problem of fake reviews is an ongoing and serious one, and there appear to be no definitive measures taken by consumer websites to deal with the issue. Ultimately, it falls on the consumer to be mindful and detect fake or insincere reviews. However, some third party websites that use AIs to detect fake reviews do exist.

AGGREGATE REVIEWS VS STAND-ALONE REVIEWS
Research suggests that 73% of consumers form their opinion about a business within reading the first 6 reviews, and 40% form their opinion after just 1-3 reviews. This suggests that consumers are impressionable to strong reviews on single-format review sites, and may be less interested in aggregate review scores. Furthermore, a 2014 study from the Journal of Consumer Behavior concluded that compared to single customer reviews, aggregate review scores were less effective, even though consumers understood that single customer reviews did not adequately represent "overall customer satisfaction". While there is no definitive explanation for this, it may be speculated that the qualitative aspects of a review are more important than quantitative aspects; studies suggest that other customer experiences are perceived as extremely relevant, potentially making aggregate scores that are purely quantitative insufficient for consumers.
REVIEW FORMAT PREFERENCE: COUNT THE MOST STARS
Consumers appear to have a preference for star ratings, which has been cited as the most important factor used by consumers to make a judgment about a business. Although this report does not cover purchasing decisions, it is important to note that the level of influence a particular review format has over potential purchasing decisions may also reflect the preferred review format for consumers. Furthermore, written content appears to be equally important to reviewers, as cited in a consumer behavior study. The qualitative aspects of written content has been established as vital in consumer perceptions of trustworthiness and decision-making. However, according to 44% of surveyed consumers, this is only if the review has been written in the last month.

c) TRUSTWORTHINESS: TIMING, CONTENT, STYLE, BIAS
As mentioned earlier, just under half of surveyed consumers prefer reviews written within the last month, as recent reviews are perceived as being more reliable. While personal recommendations may not be the most preferred type of review among consumers, 88% indicated that they find personal recommendations to be trustworthy. However, this does not mean that recommendations are perceived as necessarily more trustworthy than online reviews. Sources suggest that more than 50% of consumers aged 18-34 trust online reviews more than the opinions of family and friends. Another source reported a different finding, claiming that 84% of consumers trusted online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Search Engine Watch reported the same finding, though placed the figure at 72%.

Interestingly, the total absence of bad reviews is a red flag for many consumers; 95% "suspect censorship" or "faked reviews" if they do not see any negative reviews, though only 68% trust reviews when there is a mix of good and bad scores available. However, it should be noted that since 92% of consumers read online reviews, according to a BrightLocal survey, it can be suggested that online reviews are generally perceived as trustworthy.

Root Reviews reports that external review sites, such as Yelp, have more impact than reviews on a businesses' websites. This may be because reviews on the official company website may be perceived as more biased, while reviews on external websites are found based on Google's local search algorithm, which "incorporates data from a number of third-party directories". Consumers therefore feel they are getting a more complete picture of a business if they rely on Google's search algorithm and third party review websites. A study from Newcastle University also confirmed that perceptions of trustworthiness depended on the type of website the review was from, with preference being given to independent consumer review websites. While Newcastle University is located in the United Kingdon, it is highly probable that factors affecting consumer behaviour in the UK are not dissimilar to the United States.

The study from Newcastle University also concluded that of primary importance was the content and style of the written review. Reviews that were very short were perceived as untrustworthy. However, long reviews written in a "marketing style" were also perceived as untrustworthy. For example, reviews with "sensational titles" and "emotional, gushy language" were flagged as being fake or insincere. Long reviews needed to contain information that was detailed, relevant, and factual in order to be perceived as truthful. Furthermore, detailed accounts of customer experience was also seen as trustworthy. The inclusion of pictures heightened a review's trustworthiness, as pictures were perceived as helpful to consumers, and thus honest.

FAKE REVIEWS: THE CUSTOMER'S RESPONSIBILITY
There is little evidence to suggest that marketplaces like Amazon and third party websites take definitive steps for dealing with fake reviews. In fact, until October 2016, Amazon permitted "incentivized reviews", but the website was flooded by such reviews, which severely compromised review integrity. One source reported that Google's engine is more effective than Yelp's at predicting fake reviews, but there is little detail on how or why. Nevertheless, many companies do buy positive, fake reviews, despite online marketplaces like Amazon now having explicit policies against this. A Forbes article, however, suggested that Amazon's fake reviews are skyrocketing, and there is little being done about the issue. Sources suggest that it is ultimately the consumer's responsibility to detect fake reviews. For example, the Forbes article suggests checking the number of reviews against the age of the business; if a relatively new business has hundreds of reviews posted in a short span of time, it is a strong indication that the reviews are fake.

Third party websites to help consumers detect fake reviews also exist. For example, Fakespot is a website that consumers can use to help them decide how trustworthy an Amazon listing is. When the link to the Amazon listing is pasted into Fakespot, algorithms are used to predict the likelihood of fake reviews. Fakespot's AI analyzes every review posted by a single reviewer and "adjusts based on the prevailing patterns used by proven fake reviewers and their reviews".

CONCLUSION
Consumer research is a vast and complex field. Where online reviews are concerned, it appears that consumers prefer stand-alone reviews to aggregate reviews, despite knowing that the former is less reflective of a business' overall performance. Number of stars and written content appear to be the most preferred review format, while multiple factors are involved in determining a review's trustworthiness. Academic research indicates that length, style, and content of reviews are vital in consumers' perception; short reviews, long, flowery reviews, and sensationalist titles were dismissed as untrustworthy. Furthermore, reviews from third party websites were perceived as more trustworthy than reviews from official business websites. Interestingly, products that had no negative reviews were deemed less trustworthy as well. This tactic, however, may have merit, as many websites do not take active steps to reduce the incidence of fake reviews, and have even allowed incentivized reviews in the past. Detecting fake reviews appears to be up to the consumer, who can turn to third party AIs such as Fakespot for help.


Part
04
of four
Part
04

Consumer Demographics and Behaviors, Product Review Sites

Online reviews have a huge impact on consumer purchasing behavior in the U.S., with a growing number of consumers reading more than 11 reviews before deciding on making a purchase. The number of reviews, and their nature also has an effect on consumers' decisions. Below, you will find a deep dive of our findings.

CONSUMER DEMOGRAPHICS

We have focused on the U.S. to understand consumer demographics, and found that half of the adult population under 50 routinely read online reviews before buying new commodities. Reading online reviews is most popular among the 18-29 age group, with 53% of them admitting to always or almost always checking online reviews before buying something new and 43% saying they read them sometimes. 47% of people in the 30-49 age group also said they almost always checked reviews, while 45% admitted checking them sometimes.

There is a correlation between the frequency at which people read online reviews and how often they shop for goods online, with 67% of weekly online shoppers nearly always reading reviews before buying new goods, compared to 54% of monthly online shoppers and 38% of consumers who shopped less frequently online. Online shoppers were found to be eight times more likely to read reviews before buying a commodity for the first time, than those who never shop online.

Gender is also an important factor while considering the impact of online reviews in affecting purchase decisions, with women being influenced to a greater extent on their purchase decisions by both positive and negative reviews as compared to men. Also, racial/ethnic background has been observed to have an impact in online restaurant reviews, where African Americans have a more positive attitude toward a restaurant after reading positive online reviews posted by other African Americans while there is no such difference in attitude in White people after reading positive online reviews from other Whites.

In addition to reading online reviews, 55% of U.S. adults say they have watched product review videos online before deciding on making a purchase. Watching product review videos are more common among those under 50 (68%) than among those 50 and older (41%). Also, more men (62%) watch review videos, with only about 50% of women watching them.

While smartphones are not the most preferred online sales channel, they are being used by consumers for product research while in a physical shop. 77% of consumers in the US have said they "look up products online" while out shopping. The primary reason for performing an online research while they are out shopping is to compare prices, followed by searching for product information and checking online reviews.

TIME SPENT ON READING REVIEWS

While there is no data available on the time spent by consumers on reading reviews, we were able to find the number of reviews consumers read on average, which is indicative of the time spent. A survey conducted in 2017 found that the average consumer reads 7 reviews before trusting a business, with a growing number of consumers reading more than 11 online reviews for the same. They also found that 68% of consumers read four or more reviews before deciding to trust a business with only 3% of consumers reading just one review before forming an opinion.

When it comes to buying products, about 22% of consumers will not purchase a product after reading just one negative review about it, while 59% will not buy after reading three negative reviews, which reduces the number of reviews people read on average before deciding to make a purchase.

IMPACT OF REVIEWS ON CONSUMER PURCHASING BEHAVIOR

Product reviews have a huge impact on consumer purchasing behavior, with 60% of consumers looking at online reviews at least weekly. Also, a recent survey by Podium found that 93% of consumers felt that online reviews impact their purchasing decisions. 68% of consumers surveyed were willing to pay up to "15% more for the same product or service" if they were assured about having a better experience by way of positive reviews. They also found that consumers visited Google(81%), Yelp(59%) and Facebook(49%) primarily over the year 2016 to research on local businesses. About 36% of consumers also checked industry specific websites. Also, 66% of consumers surveyed said they do not trust reviews on websites they are unfamiliar with. Consumers are 12 times more likely to trust reviews from other shoppers than descriptions that come from the company itself, which leads them to use online review sites.

Among Millennials, who are a part of the adults under 50 and primary readers of online reviews, 68% trust online reviews most when compared to television advertisements and other forms of marketing of any product, and, on average, positive reviews create an increase of 18% in sales.

Negative reviews have a huge impact on consumers, with 22% consumers deciding not to purchase a product after reading just one negative review about it, and 59% will not consider buying the product after three negative reviews. The outcome of a negative review does not necessarily have to be a decrease in sales, as it can be altered by the retailer's response to the review. When retailers replied to negative reviews of their products on online review sites and social media, a third of the buyers deleted their original review or even replaced it with a new positive review of the product, which shows that consumers care about how complaints are responded to.

The number of reviews a product has garnered is also considered important, and is being taken as a metric of its popularity by consumers in spite of negative reviews, according to the findings of a scientific research, with consumers being more likely to purchase a product that has more reviews even if it shows the same poor rating as another similar product with a lower number of reviews.

Another survey found that 92% of consumers hesitate to make a purchase if there are no customer reviews, with 35% respondents being less likely to buy, and 32% will hold on until more research can be found on the product. They have also found that 73% of the consumers felt that written reviews make more of an impression on them than star or number ratings on review sites. The most important elements of customers reviews according to the consumers were- "Written reviews with details about customers' experience" (34%), a mixture of positive and negative reviews (31 %) and "a large number of reviews" (19 %).

While online reviews have a huge impact on consumer purchasing behavior, many consumers are not aware that many online reviews can be fake. According to a scientific research article, the number of reviews posted is related to review fraud. A greater number of reviews indicates less fake reviews, while a lesser number of reviews is associated with increased fraud. Awareness of review fraud influences the impact of negative and positive reviews, with people reading them with more caution. Also, even if consumers are aware of review fraud, they only partially consider it while checking for reviews, and retailers are largely unaffected by their awareness.

CONCLUSION

With a majority of consumers in the U.S. checking online reviews before buying a new product, customer reviews on websites create a palpable impact on their purchasing behavior. Also, with 92% of consumers hesitating before buying a product which has no reviews, and their opinions being shaped by retailers' responses to negative reviews received, product reviews matter. The number of reviews a product has garnered also impacts its sales, with consumers making decisions based on written reviews more than star ratings.
Sources
Sources

From Part 01