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bazaarvoice-online-product-reviews-suggestions-april2012.jpgBrands can gain significant insights into how to improve already successful products by analyzing online reviews, finds BazaarVoice [pdf] in a March 2012 report. Examining more than 6 million pieces of user-generated content from both in-store and online shoppers, the company found that 12% of all reviews include product suggestions, and that the frequency of suggestions was highest among very positive reviews (4 out of a possible 5 stars), at 20%. A significant proportion of 1-3-star reviews were also accompanied by suggestions, ranging from 16.3-20%, although, somewhat predictably, the frequency of suggestions coming with 5-star reviews was lowest, at 7.26%.

Most Suggestions Are Constructive

The BazaarVoice study reveals that the suggestions contained within product reviews are not necessarily indicative of intrinsic product problems. In fact, the largest category of suggestions, making up 42.5% of all those identified, is termed “Color/Style/Size/Wish,” indicating possible external enhancements to the product, such as wishing it was available in a different color. The next-largest category of suggestions relates to improvement (37%), whereby consumers offer suggestions for making a product better. The study notes that these are generally seen in 3- or 4-star reviews.

Only a Minority are Complaints

Meanwhile, just 14.5% of all suggestions fall into the “Problem” category, meaning that they point to a fundamental negative issue with the product, such as a deficiency or shortcoming. Other categories that take up a fraction of all suggestions include calls for more in stock (2.5%), comparisons to other products (2.5%), and wishes for a previous version (1%).

Facebook Shared Reviews Have Higher Ratings

Interestingly, data from the “Bazaarvoice Conversation Index” indicates that product opinions contributed on a brand’s site and shared to Facebook have a 5% higher rating than those not shared (4.5 vs. 4.3). The importance of Facebook product comments and shares was recently found in a Social Labs study, which showed that 1 in 4 online shoppers, who shop at least quarterly online and login to their Facebook account at least monthly, have made a purchase based on a social recommendation. Of note, the comments that made readers most interested in learning more about a product were the ones detailing the reasons why the product was chosen (43%), ahead of those containing discount offers (41%).

Meanwhile, according to BazaarVoice, consumers submitting reviews via Facebook write less than those who contribute online product reviews to a brand’s website: opinions shared on a brand’s website were found to be on average 48% longer than those written via Facebook. In fact, onsite contributors add 12 times as many unique keywords as those reviewing products through Facebook.

About the Data: The BazaarVoice study is based on a sample of 11+ million pieces of user-generated content generated by contributors on its clients’ sites during the past 3 to 6 months. These data points include consumer-contributed content from around the world.

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