With the advancement of Internet technology, we have fallen into a bad habit of being overdependent on online users ratings while making decisions regarding product purchase.
However, in a reality check, a new study has found that the common belief of people on online user ratings as the good indicators of product quality is a myth, even though, for purchasing purposes, decisions are still made by many consumers on the basis of rating information.
The researchers said that mostly all the retailers are providing user ratings on their websites.
The researchers for this study examined user ratings for 1,272 products across 120 product categories, such as bike helmets, car seats, smoke alarms, blood pressure monitors, sunblock, and air filters.
Their analysis showed a very low resemblance between the products average user ratings on an e-commerce portal and that of the product ratings collected from the objective tests found in consumer reports.
“The likelihood that an item with a higher user rating performs objectively better than an item with a lower user rating is only 57 percent,” said Bart de Langhe, aÂ professor at the University of Colorado Boulder in the US.
“A correspondence of 50 per cent would be random, so user ratings provide very little insight about objective product performance,” de Langhe said.
According to the study, the user ratings fails to determine the resale value of used products.
“Products with better reliability and performance retain more of their value over time,” said de Langhe.
“If average user ratings reflect objective quality, they should correlate positively with resale values. The fact that they donâ€™t cast more doubt on the validity of user ratings,” he said.
Further, researchers also analysed the information on which the consumers rely while judging the quality of products on the e-commerce website. In which they found that the consumers heavily passed their judgement according to the average user rating presented front and centre, giving no concern to the fact whether the average rating is based on a large or a small sample of consumers.
“This is a mistake. Oftentimes, there are just not enough ratings for a product or there is too much disagreement among reviewers,” said de Langhe.
“In this case, consumers should not trust the average very much, but they do nonetheless,” he said.
The Journal of Consumer Research has published this study.