October 3, 2006, 12:00 AM

Positive customer reviews outweigh negative 8 to 1, data show

In hundreds of thousands of online customer reviews across 30 marketer users of Bazaarvoice’s service, positive reviews outnumber negative ones. Average rating is 4.3 out of five stars.

Data from retailer users of customer ratings and reviews service from Bazaarvoice show that the customer reviews being posted are more likely to give a thumbs up than a thumbs down. Analysis across products and services shows positive reviews are outweighing negative ones by a factor of eight to one, with the average rating a 4.3 out of a possible five stars, according to the company.


The findings are consistent across a variety of products and services offered by Bazaarvoice marketer users, ranging from computers to pet products, apparel, sporting equipment, and travel and real estate services. The data set was drawn from hundreds of thousands of reviews and ratings posted at 30 online retailers that follow a policy of posting both positive and negative reviews.


The findings that positive reviews outnumber negative ones runs counter to earlier views expressed by some marketers about the potential of customer reviews to backfire on retailers and products. Even Bazaarvoice and its early customers expected that customer rating and reviews would prove to be equally distributed among the positive and the negative.


“We are seeing a ratings j-curve across many clients in diverse industries,” says Sam Decker, vice president of marketing and products at Bazaarvoice. “The distribution looks like a J on a graph, where you see a low volume of one-start reviews, fewer 2- and 3-star reviews, then a huge jump in four- and five-star reviews. While surprising at first, this finding agrees with third-party studies that suggest word of mouth is much more positive than we often assume.”


Among those studies, a recent JupiterKagan study found that 60% of online shoppers provide positive feedback about a shopping experience and are more likely to give feedback about a positive experience than a negative one.



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