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Survey: Number of Consumers Who ‘Never’ Review Drops by Half

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I remember a debate at a local conference years ago about whether consumers would write reviews in categories other than restaurants, such as plumbers. History has definitively proven the skeptics wrong: consumers are reviewing local businesses and multi-location brands across the spectrum of categories — including plumbers.

Indeed, consumers are writing more reviews more often, according to a new survey from GetFiveStars. The 2017 (n=2,000+) follows nearly identical surveys in previous years since 2014. The question was “After purchasing from a local business, how often will you take the time to leave an online review for that business?”

Multi-year trend toward more online review writing 

Survey writing GetFiveStars

Source: GetFiveStars (2017)

The key takeaway from the above chart is the number of consumers who NEVER write reviews is declining, from almost 60 percent in 2014 to just over 30 percent in 2017. That’s a very significant drop.

In something of a surprise, defying conventional wisdom, the most recent version of the survey saw a relatively even distribution of review writing among different age cohorts. Those over 55 were writing nearly as many reviews as often as those in the 18 – 24 age group.

Many local business owners remain fearful of reviews. However, broader consumer participation in online review writing is good news for most businesses. The reason most people don’t leave reviews is that they’re not asked or prompted in some way. But multiple studies have shown that the majority of customers are satisfied and would likely leave positive reviews.

According to the most recent, available Yelp data, nearly 70 percent of reviews on the site are 4 or 5 stars.

Yelp ratings distribution (March 2017)

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Source: Yelp

Beyond all the traditional reasons for reviews, they’re now a local ranking signal for Google. Therefore, it’s incumbent upon business owners and those serving the local ecosystem to help capture consumer reviews in an ethical way on Yelp, Google, Facebook and relevant vertical sites.

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