Sneak Peek of Product Ratings & Reviews Reports

Ratings and Consumer Insights

We collect a lot of data at Reviewbox. Using Reviewbox you can collect the star rating, review text, and questions that consumers post on Amazon (and other sites as well). While this is useful for improving customer service,  there's also a lot of valuable product and consumer insight embedded within the ratings and reviews.

One of our goals for 2019 is to directly help capture these insights. To that end, I'll be publishing a series of posts highlighting some thoughts on visualizations and techniques that we plan on implementing throughout the year. For this post, we're going to examine the ratings data for two popular products. Specifically, we're going to try to answer the following two questions:

  1. What direction is the product rating trending?
  2. What's causing this trend?

So without further ado, let's get started!

Product 1 - Pet Supplies

Here's the ratings for a popular pet drinking fountain over approximately a six month period. This particular product has thousands of reviews including some more recent ones. However, for this graph we've zoomed in on a period in early 2016 to highlight some salient data.

Ratings over time for popular pet product

Reading the Graph

First, the top solid line represents the rolling 30-day ratings average. That means that we're able to compare any given month to the prior month to ascertain the overall "trend" (e.g., going down is bad, going up is good). For this particular product we can see the ratings trended downwards for a few months, stabilized around December and then began to trend back up in January. Keep in mind that this doesn't mean the overall "star" rating the customer sees on the product detail page actually fluctuated to this degree; ascertaining the trends requires us to analyze the individual ratings. 

Second, to dig into what may be causing these rating trends, we can look into the proportion of ratings (i.e., how many 1-stars relative to 5-stars).

  • Each solid color represents a different rating.
  • The height of each color represents the number of reviews received with that particular rating.

In this graph the lightest blue represents the 5-stars, so you want to ensure that those constitute the highest peak. The dark purple peaks are the 1-star reviews. You want those to be the smallest.

So what's going on with this product to cause the negative trend starting in September? There appear to be two things happening.

  1. The number of 5-star reviews decreased from September through October.
  2. While that was happening, there was a jump in the number of 1-star reviews with a noticeable cluster of purple colored reviews in November and December. Starting in January though, the cluster of 1,2-star reviews decreased while the number of 5-stars slowly went back up (especially relative to the 4-stars).

If one of your products exhibits this sort of trend, you may want to do a deeper dive into the actual review text for the relevant time period to see why customers are rating your product lower.

Product 2 - InstaPot

Here's another product that exhibits a very different trend. This one is newer (it's one of those cool InstaPots) and has several hundred reviews. So the first thing that will immediately stand out is that the rating trend has been going up for the past several months. Overall the rolling average has gone from under 3.5 to about 4.5. If you were to visit this product on Amazon you would see a rating of 4.1. So that's good news for this product!

So what's causing this positive trend?

Note that there were a large number of reviews right around late December, coinciding with the holiday season. Apparently the Christmas shopper tends to be pretty critical! Although there were a lot of 5-star reviews, there was a pretty large number of 1 and 2-star reviews. There were also quite a few 4-stars relative to 5-stars. This drove the average rating down quite a bit.

Fortunately by January the number of negative reviews decreased quite a bit while the number of 5-star reviews decreased only slightly. The lesson here is that 1-star reviews matter! My expectation is that if the InstaPot team is able to keep the 1-star reviews under control, the rating trend will begin to flatten out around 4.5.

Ratings over time for InstaPot

Future Direction

We're working hard on improving our Ratings & Reviews Report and I hope these graphs give you a sense of where we'd like to go. There's still some fine tuning before the final product is released on Reviewbox, and even more features we plan to add. One area that I'm excited about is automatic keyword and topic discovery. Stay tuned and let me know what you think!