New Eller Research Shows Online Reviews Trump Product Ratings

Anastasiya Pocheptsova Ghosh

New research findings out of the University of Arizona Eller College of Management in Tucson reveal that even though product ratings are a more authentic measurement, user-generated content reviews are more influential in purchasing decisions.

Study author Anastasiya Pocheptsova Ghosh, assistant professor of marketing, found that products with lower ratings but more reviews are more likely to be chosen by the consumer than products with higher ratings but fewer reviews.

Further, consumers are more likely to defer purchasing a product when it has low reviews versus when the retailer chooses not to reveal how many consumers completed reviews. Analyzing more than 2.4 million products across 24 product categories, the study involved experimental studies and simulations that indicated that the number of reviews drives sales volume.

Implications of the study seem to be that increasing the number of reviews in early- to mid-stage product life cycles might benefit retailers. Results of this study can be helpful for retailers who are considering incorporating review numbers into their product page design.

Additional details of the study were published November 2018 in Journal of Marketing under the title “Swayed by the Numbers: The Consequences of Displaying Product Review Attributes.”