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Why Online Reviews Have Such a Profound Effect on Buyers

Considering why online reviews impact buyers, consider the self-enhancement theory. Consumers trust the credibility of online reviews as much as personal recommendations, and a study suggests that the reviews can increase sales by 18%. Several factors can impact this effect, including Product type, Language style, and Negative reviews.


Self-enhancement theory is the reason why online reviews have such a profound effect on buyers.

Social-psychological and environmental factors influence panic buying. These factors include the contagion model, perceived scarcity, trust in the government and media content, and fear of the unknown. Panic buying is particularly significant in countries where people are more prone to avoid uncertainty and panic buying.

In self-enhancement theory, a consumer’s perceived utility is influenced by their level of self-efficacy. Those with higher self-efficacy tend to take fewer risks regarding scarcity. Therefore, they will perceive the risk of stockouts as high.

Consumers’ perceived human support for technology-mediated services is essential in influencing purchase decisions. In addition, a social presence on digital platforms increases the likelihood that customers will identify the company as a social entity, creating a supportive digital environment. Therefore, companies must reinforce interactions with customers and customer focus by supporting their social identity.

Studies that have involved 71 U.S. college students have found that red numbers resulted in 20% lower test scores than green or black. This study demonstrates the power of color in consumer behavior. The psychology behind colors has long suggested that different shades evoke different feelings; a product’s color could say something about its owners’ personalities.

Another factor influencing consumer behavior is the prevalence of social proof. Consumers seek approval from others, and this extends to the web. Negative reviews are influential. One person’s opinion may not be enough to influence a buyer’s decision. A product’s popularity can affect the likelihood of a purchase.


Product type

Two recent studies have examined how online reviews affect consumers’ purchase intention. While literal reviews evoke higher purchase intentions, figurative reviews have a more positive effect on purchase intentions. This finding is consistent with the idea that online language style may be a critical factor in purchase intentions. However, future research should examine this issue from different perspectives. For example, the role of social presence might play a role in the impact of figurative reviews.

Researchers have found that consumers pay attention to contextual information when reading online reviews. In addition, consumers respond more favorably to reviews from consumers with a greater exposure or reputation. However, the influence of online reviews on buyers of a product type diminishes over time, meaning that firms no longer need to provide incentives to obtain positive reviews. Further, many consumers are likely to read online reviews if they’re biased or have a high profile.

Consumers have also shown a high level of interest in online reviews, with 60% of consumers reading online reviews every week. In addition, two-thirds of consumers are willing to pay an extra 15% if the reviews reflect their experience with a product. Thus, it is essential to understand how online reviews affect consumers’ purchase decisions. However, the key is knowing how to optimize online reviews’ effectiveness.

The authors found that consumers prefer to read reviews that reflect attributes and experiences, although the latter did not show the same effect in all cases. Therefore, future research should explore the impact of different aspects of a product’s page, including the number of reviews and the various review types. Moreover, the researchers should choose products with a significant difference between experience and search categories and repeat their findings across different product categories.



Negative reviews

It is challenging to ignore negative online reviews. They are the backbone of a business’s reputation and can affect a buyer’s decision. However, you can avoid them by managing them effectively. One way to handle negative reviews is by responding quickly to them. Consumers who post negative reviews usually want to be acknowledged, so you can change their opinion if you react to them. However, you need to be careful to respond professionally and courteously.

Consumers make buying decisions based on pictures and words online. Negative reviews could be helpful and make the buyer want to buy your product. However, a single good review doesn’t help the company’s reputation. The average consumer trusts collective experiences over individual experiences and quickly discerns an outlier from an overarching trend.

It’s also important to understand that customers rely heavily on feedback from previous buyers to determine whether a purchase is good. Therefore, using positive reviews will increase conversions. Moreover, negative reviews will influence a consumer’s decision if they are unsure of the product’s quality or if it’s good enough. Lastly, online reviews are an excellent tool to market your product to potential customers.

This study focuses on positive reviews, while ignoring the negative ones may have an adverse impact. A recent survey by Dimensional Research found that ninety percent of consumers had read reviews on a particular product or service online. Moreover, eighty percent of consumers said they had influenced their buying decisions based on those reviews. Interestingly, negative reviews are mostly found on popular sites, while positive reviews are most commonly found on social media, with 44% of positive reviews coming from Facebook.


Influence on purchase intention

Online reviews can have a direct impact on a consumer’s purchase intention, and they also can have an indirect effect through the perception of risk. For example, studies conducted by Shanka et al. (2011) found that the quality of online reviews significantly influenced the likelihood of a consumer making a purchase. Furthermore, reviews that were not sourced by high-quality sources did not have as significant an impact as those sourced by anonymous people.

The impact of negative and positive online reviews was significant when they accounted for nearly half of the variance in purchase intention. The high correlation between negative and neutral reviews and purchase intention suggests that the latter has a positive regulating effect. This result also indicates that the emergence of consumer-friendly online reviews may benefit purchasing choices. But it is unclear whether this effect is due to a real or imagined risk.

One hypothesis was that the quality and quantity of negative online reviews influence a consumer’s purchase intention. In other words, the amount of negative online reviews is associated with a lower purchase intention. The quality of reviews also influences the perception of risk. Therefore, the quality of a negative review is positively related to a consumer’s risk-taking ability. But the quality of a positive review is not associated with the number of negative reviews.

The study found that the effectiveness of an online review depends on the content of the review. Reviewers who think a product is essential will actively seek information about it. They are also more likely to spread word-of-mouth information about it. Negative online reviews, on the other hand, have a significant effect on purchase intention. These studies also consider other psychological factors of the person reading the review, such as the product’s perceived risk.

About the author:  Brian Lett is a full-time blogger on where he routinely analyses different types of business software.