Here’s What Consumers Pay Attention to When Judging a Local Business by Its Reviews

January 3, 2020

This article is included in these additional categories:

Boomers & Older | Customer Experience | Customer-Centric | Demographics & Audiences | Digital | Social Media | Youth & Gen X

Nine in 10 consumers (91%) say that a positive review makes them more likely to use a business, and the vast majority (82%) report reading such reviews at least occasionally. When judging a local business on reviews, the two most important factors consumers pay attention to are recency and overall star rating, per a recent survey from BrightLocal.

Nearly 3 in 5 (58%) of the more than 1,000 US consumers surveyed say that they judge a review of a local business by how recent the review is. So how recent should those reviews be? For almost half (48%) of respondents, a review should be within 2 weeks of when they view it in order to impact their decision, while one-fifth (21% share) of respondents say a review can be as recent as 1 month to impact their decision.

Meanwhile, the majority (57%) of respondents say that they pay attention to overall star ratings when judging a local business by its reviews. The minimum number of stars a business rating can have for consumers to still use them appears to be between 3 and 4 (35% share each). However, the threshold is higher for about 1 in 8 (12% share) respondents, for whom a business must have 5 stars in order for them to use their products or services.

Meanwhile, half of the survey’s respondents pay attention to the quantity of the reviews for local businesses. Overall, consumers read an average of 10 reviews before trusting a business, although this number is higher for 18-34-year-olds, who read 13 reviews on average before a business gains their trust.

Another positive sign of business quality is who is posting the reviews. Separate research found that consumers feel that the best sign a brand understands its customers is if product reviews are from people like themselves.

Consumers clearly aren’t just passively reading reviews. They are leaving them as well, especially if the experience was a good one. Three-fifths (60%) of respondents say they have left a local business an online review after having a positive experience, while only one-quarter (25%) say they have left an online review for a local business after having a negative experience. Younger consumers (18-34-year-olds) are somewhat more prolific in writing reviews in 2019, with the average number of reviews written per reviewer in that age group being 11, compared to 9 for 35-54-year-olds and 5 for those 55 and older.

Read more results from the survey here.

About the Data: Results are based on a survey of 1,005 US consumers conducted in November 2019. Age-group breakdowns are representative of those in the US population.


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