Today’s Wall Street Journal article (access to the full article requires a WSJ account) asserts that, while gossip bloggers and paparazzi seem to unearth every negative aspect online, consumers who review products seem to keep it positive – perhaps a little too positive, according to WSJ reporters.

While the article suggests that reviews that are overly positive are at best not helpful and, at worst, edited or rejected by sites like Amazon, we have a different take on these results. In short, reviews become more positive when brands take action on customer opinions – something we advocate for all our clients. Basically, brands should seek to have mostly positive reviews, because they remove low-rated products from the mix.

To prove this, we looked across an aggregate of clients for products added to a site within the past year where the product feed was updated in the past 30 days.

For products rated two stars (out of five) or below, 70% of the products have been pulled from the site, compared to a site average of 47%. And the products were pulled 24 days faster than the site average, for a 10% decrease in time on site.

For products rated three out of five stars or below, 60% of the products have been pulled from the site, compared to a site average of 47%; these same products were pulled 14 days faster than the site average, for a 6% decrease in time on site.

This article comes on the heels of YouTube’s blog that revealed that most ratings were five stars, asking readers to chime in on how helpful these ratings actually are. As a consumer myself, I know that simple ratings – the number of stars – is only part of the picture; the real “meat” of the insights come in the actual customer-written review. For example, some consumers may give a product a low numerical rating based on poor battery life, but someone who is not concerned with battery life may not find this information off-putting. We’ve seen this time and again – the lower rating is the indicator, but the actual review content drives actual product and merchandising changes.

These findings point to the fact that brands are actually pulling lower-rated products, refusing to sell them on their sites. In short, brands are listening to consumers and using this information to improve the overall product mix. Exactly what you’d hope your opinions would accomplish.

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