Analysis of Amazon Reviews, Part 2
How Have Amazon Reviews Changed Over Time?
Behavior seen in reviewers has gradually changed over time, both due to businesses' increased focus on obtaining more product reviews and the sheer increase in number of reviewers. As e-commerce continues to replace brick-and-mortar, and increasingly more people move online to make purchases, Reviewbox thought it would be interesting to track the corresponding changes in reviewer behavior. Accumulating one million Amazon reviews spanning over a decade, we compared star ratings for reviews posted in 2016 or later to those posted prior to 2016. This blog post is a follow-up to our recent analysis of reviewer behavior in 2019, driven by findings that the distribution of star ratings has changed drastically over time.
Many, Many More Reviews are Five-Star
The most prominent finding of our analysis was the change in star rating distribution. Consumers are giving products two, three, and four stars far less frequently. Reviews now tend to skew highly positive or highly negative. The number of one-star reviews account for an additional 1.4% of the total left, while the number of five-star reviews account for an additional 4%.
Low-Rated Products are Rated Far More Negatively
Just as top-rated products are getting more positive reviews, those with ratings of three stars or less are getting increasingly more one-star reviews. This finding suggests that consumers are becoming increasingly driven to post feedback as a result of extreme experiences; they won't post unless they either love or hate the product.
Behavior for All Reviewer Types has Changed
The evolution of reviewer behavior is not limited to a certain subset of customer; examining verified, unverified, and Vine reviewers, we can see that our findings hold true for them all. One of the most distinct changes can be seen in Vine reviewers. The percentage of five-star reviews given by these people has increased by nearly 20%. While this might be the result of generally more superior products being submitted into the program, it could also indicate that Vine reviewers are being increasingly less harsh on the products they review.
What Does This All Mean?
Our data reveals that reviewer behavior is undoubtedly evolving alongside e-commerce. The increase in extreme reviews could simply be indicative of changes to the product quality or changes in consumer behavior. However, particularly with positive reviews, it's likely a result of tactics by online vendors and sellers to get better ratings. Amazon sellers know that they need good reviews to sell their products; this has led many to pursue shady tactics to accomplish this. As Amazon continues to crack down on fake and unethical reviews, the distribution of star ratings will likely to continue to evolve.
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