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How Reviews Influence Sales (Positive and Negative)

Unsur­pris­ingly, this brief ana­lys­is of how reviews influ­ence sales on Amazon equates quite well with my pur­chas­ing beha­viour; I would­n’t feel com­fort­able buy­ing a product with 100% pos­it­ive reviews unless I knew per­son­ally that it was awe­some. And a product with less than 15 reviews or so? For­get about it.

[A] hand­ful of bad reviews, it seems, are worth hav­ing. “No one trusts all pos­it­ive reviews,” [John McAt­eer, Google’s retail industry dir­ect­or,] says. So a small pro­por­tion of neg­at­ive comments—“just enough to acknow­ledge that the product could­n’t be perfect“—can actu­ally make an item more attract­ive to pro­spect­ive buy­ers.

The sheer volume of reviews makes far more dif­fer­ence, accord­ing to Google’s ana­lys­is of clicks and sales refer­rals. “Single digits did­n’t seem to move the needle at all,” says Mr McAt­eer. “It wasn’t enough to get people com­fort­able with mak­ing that pur­chase decision.” But after about 20 reviews of a product are pos­ted, “We start to see more reviews—it starts to accel­er­ate.”