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How Are Consumers Spending Some of Their Time? Reading Reviews. Lots of Reviews.

Some will even spend upwards of an hour before making a decision

Reviews play a central role in the path to purchase, and many consumers don’t just skim them before purchasing—or passing on—a product. Some will spend anywhere from a few minutes to more than an hour to make sure they’re making the right choice.

According to a November 2019 survey from Brightlocal, millennials were more likely to spend a substantial amount of time reading reviews than older cohorts. While nearly half of US internet users ages 18 to 34 said they spent fewer than 10 minutes, almost a third spent more than 25 minutes.

This group was also more likely to devote more than an hour to reading reviews before making a purchase decision. Some 7% of respondents ages 18 to 34 said they did, whereas fewer respondents ages 35 to 54 (2%) and those ages 55 and older (1%) agreed.

Older respondents, particularly those ages 55 and older, don’t put as much weight on reviews—at least not to the extent of spending a great deal of time perusing them. Two-thirds of respondents in that cohort reported spending 10 minutes or less reading reviews, while considerably fewer said they spent more time than that. For example, 28% of millennials spent more than 25 minutes looking at reviews vs. 7% of those ages 55 and older.

By and large, reviews can make or break a purchase. On one hand, they can get shoppers to spend more than they initially intended to. But a product with a low rating—or a small number of reviews—can also steer consumers away. In a survey conducted last year by retail operations platform Brightpearl and Trustpilot, a community-driven online review platform, nearly seven in 10 US internet users said they mainly focus on star ratings when judging a brand or retailer.

And in yet another sign that reviews matter, a separate June 2019 survey from Trustpilot asked digital shoppers worldwide what would lead to an increase in brand trust. Three of the top 10 factors centered around reviews.