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39% of UK consumers believe that around half the online reviews on seller sites are fake.

Research from the leading B2B software search website analyses the percentage of consumers that approach online reviews with uncertainty, whilst demonstrating how reviews influence consumer behaviour.

UK, May 2022- Software Advice’s new study analyses the factors that make a review seem trustworthy, whilst examining how consumers interact with online review platforms. The study reveals respondents’ apprehension towards online reviews, as 39% believe that around half the online reviews on seller sites are fake. Whilst an additional 15% think that more than half of the reviews on sellers’ websites are fake.

Despite this, 45% claimed they trust the opinion of online customer reviews the most when buying a product, even more so than personal recommendations from friends or family (26%). 

Software Advice’s research study revealed that 24% of respondents always inspect online reviews before deciding on which product to invest in, whilst 45% check them often. Only 23% read them occasionally. Interestingly, over one-quarter (28%) check reviews more frequently now than before the COVID-19 pandemic, perhaps due to the rise in online shopping in the UK.

Respondents were asked what information they find most important in an online review. Most found the listings of pros (72%) and cons (72%) of a product or service essential. Whilst the next most desired feature was the user’s personal experience with the product (68%). These factors all work to positively influence a consumer’s purchasing decision. Moreover, when checking reviews, 19% stated they trust negative reviews the most, compared with 16% that trust positive reviews.

Most consumers (50%) make sure a review appears on a trusted review platform to ensure that it’s authentic. Furthermore, 47% of respondents are more likely to trust a review if it is balanced in terms of pros and cons. 46% are more prone to believe it if the reviewer or purchase is verified, and 45% if the review sounds like it’s been written by a human as opposed to a bot. 

Interestingly, consumers trusted products that received a moderate number of reviews more so than those that received tens or hundreds; they rated 6-20 reviews as the ideal number (at 42%). Additionally, consumers would also rather buy a product that has 4/5 stars but has received 15 ratings, than a product rated 5/5 with 5 ratings. Newer reviews were also more likely to be considered over reviews left a while ago. As 36% of respondents would only take reviews posted in the last 1-3 months seriously.

When respondents were asked to rate review platforms from 1-to-5 (5 being the most trustworthy and 1 the least), independent review sites such as Trustpilot received the highest average trust rating of 3.86 out of 5. Whilst online marketplaces such as Amazon received an average trust score of 3.45 out of 5. The least trusted sites include social media platforms (2.51), and forums such as Quora (2.68).

A total of 71% of consumers said they had written an online review one or more times in the last 2 years. The main factor influencing consumers to write a review is the desire to help another customer before they buy a product (58%).

David Jani, Content Analyst at Software Advice UK, comments:

Our results show there are a number of clear preferences for UK consumers when it comes to online reviews. There seems to be a lot of trust in online customer feedback as a medium with 45% of our sample saying it was the most reliable source of information when making a purchase.

However, it was also clear that not all platforms are seen as trustworthy, especially with regards to the finding that 39% think that around half of reviews on sellers’ sites are fake.

Study Methodology

Software Advice surveyed 599 UK consumers over the age of 18 who have experience utilising online reviews to help inform their purchasing decisions. The data was collected in April 2022.

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