The Daily Review

The Daily Review


What's in an average review?

Part 1: Stars

Most people can relate to the anticipation of receiving an online order. Whether the experience is thrilling or just part of the online shopping process, when your order arrives you’re more than likely ready to open it, use it, or try it out. It's at this point that one of a few scenarios can play out:

  1. You’re completely satisfied with your order. It exceeds your expectations so much so that you would repurchase or recommend the product to a friend.
  2. You’re satisfied with your order nothing more, nothing less.
  3. Lastly, you’re not happy with your order. Maybe it’s not exactly what you expected. In any case, it’s not something you would recommend.

Of all the scenarios, which one do you think your customers are most likely to review?

Well, the answer might surprise you.

Based on an analysis of 1.5 million reviews across 30,000 listings, 75% of reviews have a star rating of 4 or more, with most reviews having a 5-star rating.

As you can see customers tend to leave a staggering number of positive reviews with 2-star reviews being the fewest. It seems that customers are more likely to leave a review when they are extremely satisfied with their order. However, not all products are equal. What about products with a lower overall rating? Do they only receive negative reviews?

Well, let’s consider two scenarios.

First, if a product has an average rating of 3-4 stars, this could imply that your product is receiving mostly 3 and 4-star reviews.

Or, it could mean that your products are receiving only a few 5-star reviews and many 1-star reviews.

In order to figure out which of these two scenarios are happening, we looked at 2,046 listings with at least 2 reviews with an overall rating of 3 stars or less. We found that a large number of reviews are either completely positive or completely negative. This means that even if your product has a relatively high average rating, a disproportionate number of those are 1-star reviews.

So how much does a 1-star review affect the overall average? To answer this question, we looked at the overall average rating of 30,000 listings and calculated the proportion of 1-star reviews.

For a product that has an average of 3.25 stars, approximately 20% of the reviews are 1-star. However, for a product that's averaging 4.25 stars, only about 5% of the reviews are 1-star. So a small increase in the average translates to a fairly substantial decrease in the number of 1-star reviews. Knowing this should help you focus on problematic products.

The overall conclusion of our analysis is that

  • Most reviews for healthy products are overwhelmingly positive
  • As the average rating falls below 4 stars, the number of 1-star reviews increases disproportionately

Because having positive reviews are so vital to the success of your products, we think it's a good idea to track reviews using software like Reviewbox. This will ensure that you won't ever miss a negative review again.

If you have any questions or are interested in running this analysis for your own products just let us know in the comments or email me at