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Psychology of a Reviewer

Cartoon Reviewers holding thumbs up and thumbs down to signify positive and negative reviews

Cartoon Reviewers holding thumbs up and thumbs down to signify positive and negative reviews

Are you a Reviewer?

It takes a certain kind of person to sit down and write a review on a product without being paid. Most people (99.9% of consumers) read reviews before purchasing a product, but fewer people will take the time to sit down and write the product review themselves. Now, obviously I’m not sitting down to read reviews about the type of mint I use or monthly calendar I pick for my office, so this does depend on the type of product. We know that reviews are important to any business, but let’s dive into the spark that ignites a reviewer to share their experience with others.

Why do people write reviews?

Each review starts with a trigger. The trigger could be an internal or external factor. A positive or negative experience may lead them to review a product or service. Did they get a free drink to write a review for your soda shop? Some people are just serial reviewers. There is a lot we don’t know about reviewers and to make it even more complex, what we know about reviewers of one type of product, may not translate to another.

Does the type of product matter?

People write reviews for different reasons and the reasons vary across different products and services. We may see more negative reviews across the board for physician offices, whereas reviews for restaurants may be more split down the middle. These psychological factors that lead to the review writing may be different in each category. Each category can have its own set of driving forces. I, for one, would have to be VERY motivated to write a review on a piece of chewing gum, but may be more inclined to offer high praise to local business. But I’m just one person. That’s why it’s important to research and identify the motivating factors so the demographics and psychological profile of the reviewer can be better understood.

Driving Forces that may be Factors for a Product or Service

Reviewers Can Have Positive or Negative Experiences

We often think that most reviewers who are sitting down to write a review had a really bad experience, but what we know is that most reviews are overwhelmingly positive. A study done by PowerReviews shows that the motivating factor for 91% of people is a good experience while only 76% of people are sitting down to write a review because of a negative experience. Still, three-quarters of people is a large number. Are these negative reviews written for the business to see or for future customers?


People who are given incentives may be more likely to review a product. For example, a free product, a discount, or reward points, may entice some people to write a review. Offering discounts for reviews, often brings the customer back for more, as it is usually applied to the next purchase. These deals may bring new customers but doesn’t address the customers reviewing a product without incentives. Who are those reviewers?

To Help or Thank the Business

People are aware that businesses will read their reviews. If a caterer goes the extra mile, people talk about it in the review. If a software company develops a feature that directly impacts user experience, the user may be more inclined to write a review. Or maybe there is a feature someone thinks would help a lot of people and they leave a review stating why that feature may improve the business or the product. Businesses can improve by understanding and dialing into what drives positive reviews. On the flipside, addressing negative reviews and what drives people to write them can improve your product and can make your customers more loyal.

It’s Ego Driven

People love to share their opinion. Even when we don’t want to hear it. But here’s the thing – people do want to read these reviews. Some people write reviews because it gives them a voice – a place to put their opinion. Companies like Yelp and Google recognize people for giving reviews, for example, naming them a Local Guide after reviewing a certain number of local businesses. The people buying a product are reading these reviews, so these loud voices need to be listened to.

How do we get people to write reviews?

Companies are trying very hard to get more positive reviews. Some businesses are being more responsive to the reviewers and answering their feedback and questions. Businesses are providing incentives to leave reviews, such as discounts, free products, and rewards points.

Businesses are recognizing that their customers want to be heard. Even if there is a negative experience with a product, responses are being provided to the customers to show that they hear the customer and hope for a second chance.

Driving the Review

The more reviews the better. We know that. But what about the review will drives sales. Longer or shorter reviews? Is having a 5-star rating enough, or does it depend on the category of the product? The driving factor to receive a “helpful” review vs. a star rating is different. Knowing what your buyers find helpful in the reviews is just as important as asking, “who are your reviewers?”

Are the Reviewers Representative of Your Customer Base?

Well, the reviewer is likely buying the product and then going online to write a review and telling the world what they thought. Regardless of whether they are representative of your larger customer base, they have a loud voice. Truth is, we don’t know if they are representative of your customer base. Each category of products and services could have different types of people reviewing the products. Understanding the reviews, responding to them, and using the feedback to improve your product or service could be the tipping point for converting someone who tries your product into a loyal follower, which is no small feat. So, we need to learn more about the reviewer. What is motivating them to review your product? MAi Research can learn more about your reviewers and the reviews that they write, and the people who read the reviews and are influenced by them.

Reviews are Abundant but A Lot is Unknown

At MAi Research, we help you identify who is reviewing your product and how representative of your customers they are, so that you can use this goldmine of free information to better connect with the customer. Reviewers have a loud voice! People are listening to them. This is the squeaky wheel that needs attention.

Come see us at to see how we can help make reviews work for you.

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