Street Survey 019: Would shoppers ever pay for product reviews?

By Summit | Tuesday 17th September 2013

Free and Paid For Reviews

Reviews of products and services have become standard features on ecommerce websites.

Reviews come in all shapes and sizes. It could be the simplest thumbs up (or down!) or a star rating, or it could be a written review, and that could consist of a couple of words right up to an extensive account of a person’s experience with a product or service.

Online retailers have discovered that user reviews can influence shoppers’ opinion of the retailer itself: if the reviews are genuine and useful – reflecting good and bad – then shoppers will tend to trust that retailer.

So, reviews of everything from MP3 players to holiday villas to restaurants, films and even people, are commonplace and free, but under what circumstances would a shopper pay for a review?

The Paid For Review

Any company that wishes to charge for a review faces an uphill battle against public experience and preference simply because we’ve all become so accustomed to using free reviews.

But the bulk of the reviews we read on websites come from users who describe their personal experience and we usually have no idea how reliable that person is, if they’re telling the truth, if they’re even qualified to review a product and so on.

So there’s an opportunity for charging for a review, right there: qualified reviewers who have a trusted reputation for honesty, integrity and thoroughness.

Summit Street Survey 019: Would you ever pay for a review?

In this week’s Summit Street Survey we asked shoppers under what circumstances they would pay for a review.

The shoppers who stopped to answer questions were mostly younger people, and their instant response was unanimously: “Pay for a review?!” And then they laughed.

They all use reviews and expect to see them on sites and have their own ways of judging whether a review is trust worthy.

But it was only under closer consideration that they were able to find situations under which they might consider paying for a review.

Reasons they gave included the expense of a product or service. So, the greater the risk to making a choice that didn’t pay off the more likely they were to consider paying for a review.

As well as cost, shoppers considered the complexity of a product or service. So, if it was something about which they knew little and the risk of making a bad choice was still there, then there was a possibility they might pay for a review.

Lastly, one shopper spoke about the personal value he placed on information – in this case, a movie review. So, he prizes trustworthy reviews of films delivered in the way he likes and on the website he likes, by writers he enjoys. He’ll pay money for that.