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Surprise! Most Consumers Look at Reviews Before a Purchase

In another sign that product reviews play an integral role in the shopping process, new data finds that roughly two-thirds of US internet users reference them at least often before making a purchase. 

In fact, according to "The eMarketer Ecommerce Insights Report," conducted in February 2018 by Bizrate Insights, very few respondents said they rarely or never looked to reviews before buying something. For the most part, reviews were a key component to their shopping process. Nearly a quarter of respondents said they always referenced them, while 40.8% said they did so often. Meanwhile, 25.6% said they looked at them occasionally. 

Respondents were members of Bizrate Rewards, the Bizrate Consumer Panel operated by Bizrate Insights, with over 1.9 million panelists who provide feedback based on their experiences and opinions. This survey, provided by Bizrate Insights on behalf of eMarketer, provides a monthly consumer pulse of digital shopping behavior and intent.

Millennials were more likely to reference reviews frequently than their older cohorts. For example, 37.3% of respondents ages 18 to 29 said they always looked at product reviews before making a purchase. By contrast, 19.3% of respondents ages 60 and older agreed. 

Consumers are likely checking on reviews frequently because there's some level of trust there. In fact, the study found that a majority of respondents find product reviews to be at least somewhat reliable when shopping digitally. And that was across all age groups, not just millennials.  

There's no doubt reviews are influential. A study conducted by the Better Business Bureau and Nielsen found that over half of US internet users polled in June 2017 said they used ratings and online reviews "always" or "often" to inform purchasing decisions. 

And a separate survey from BrightLocal revealed that more than eight in 10 US internet users surveyed in October 2017 said they generally trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.