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How Product Reviews Help Brands Connect With Millennial Shoppers

Millennials are a force to be reckoned with. Today, there are 72.1 million millennials in the U.S., making it the largest living generation. And they’re willing to spend money with the brands they love. According to Statista, millennial-led households in the U.S. spent an average of nearly $60,000 in 2019. 


Millennials shop online more than older generations—according to eMarketer 85.9% of millennials make purchases online, and they depend on feedback from other consumers throughout the purchase journey. In fact, nearly half (48%) of millennials say they won’t purchase a product without reviews.


This figure comes from PowerReviews’ recent consumer survey draws on responses from 6,538 active shoppers across the United States who have opted-in to offers and discounts from retailers.


Most brands know the power of a positive review, but millennials also seek out negative reviews—ostensibly to learn about the worst-case scenario before committing to a purchase. 97% of millennials specifically seek out negative reviews at least sometimes and 60% say they specifically seek out one-star reviews. 


While many brands cringe at the thought of negative reviews, bad reviews can actually be good for business. At a time when faith in institutions is low, genuine and authentic customer feedback is vital. After all, 47% of millennials surveyed say they’re suspicious of products with a perfect five-star rating.


Ratings and reviews provide a uniquely strategic means to help build brand trust and authenticity for consumers, and even negative reviews can be beneficial in achieving the overarching objective of establishing consumer trust and transparency.


Millennials use reviews when shopping in person, too. Millennial shoppers depend on ratings and reviews to make informed purchase decisions, regardless of channel. Nearly all (99.9%) read reviews when shopping online and 63% of millennials read reviews when shopping in physical store locations. 


Designing strategies to court millennial reviews

Brands and retailers must provide user-generated content (UGC) or risk losing shoppers to a competitor that does.


Millennials also have the potential to be a rich source of reviews for retailers, but it can be challenging to generate reviews from this busy group of shoppers. The first step is to understand what motivates millennials to provide this content.


Then, you can use those insights to evolve your approach to your review collection—and start generating a higher volume of reviews from this important demographic. 


You may well assume that millennials also write a lot of reviews, but that is only partly true. Other research we conducted found that just over half (53%) of millennials say they write reviews multiple times per month. That’s a pretty big number but it’s still lower than Gen Xers (54%) and Gen Zers (56%), although it’s significantly higher than the comparative figure for Boomers (47%).


You may think millennials are more likely to write reviews if they’ve had a bad experience. But 92% of millennials say that it’s actually a great experience that motivates them to write a review (compared to 76% who indicate a negative review motivates them to write a review).


So, make it a priority to consistently deliver great products and experiences to your customers. 


Developing great products is essential, but so too is managing expectations. Be sure to provide plenty of information—including comprehensive product descriptions, customer reviews, and professional and shopper-submitted photos and videos—to ensure shoppers have realistic expectations of your products.


That way, when the product arrives, it’s much more likely to meet customer expectations—and their great experience with your product will make them more likely to leave a review.


However, a great product is just one factor that contributes to a customer’s experience. It’s also important to focus on ways to improve the shopping experience throughout the purchase journey — from browsing on your website, mobile app or brick-and-mortar store, to responding quickly when something goes wrong.


There are shoppers who will write reviews of their own volition, but often, customers need to be prompted to submit a review. One of the most effective ways is to send a post-purchase email, asking shoppers to review their recently purchased products. Up to 80% of reviews are the result of post-sale emails.


However, one-third of millennials surveyed say they need to be asked twice before leaving a review. If shoppers don’t write a review following receipt of a post-purchase email, consider sending a second. It’s a low-effort tactic that can help generate a lot more review content from millennials who may need an extra nudge.


When asking for reviews from millennial shoppers, consider sweetening the deal by offering an incentive. Nearly three-quarters of millennials surveyed (73%) say an incentive would motivate them to write a review.


The most enticing incentive for millennials is receiving a free product sample. However, there are other incentives that intrigue millennial shoppers, including early access to a product (84%), discounts (74%) and loyalty points (65%).


Whatever incentive you opt to provide, make sure it’s prominently showcased in your post-purchase emails. Additionally, be sure to always disclose on your website when a review has been written as the result of an incentive. It’s an important way to be transparent—and preserve your customers’ trust.


Courting reviewers cultivates buyers

Millennials as a market segment are critical to the success of any consumer-focused business. With ratings and reviews now so influential in converting shoppers to buyers, an effective strategy to cultivate and present this content to and from individuals in this age range is absolutely essential.


It speaks to them in a way only a few other marketing strategies do—whether they’re shopping online or even in-store. So retailers should make sure to dedicate the appropriate resources to effectively build this tactic into their overall e-commerce approach.




Andrew Smith

Andrew Smith is vice president of marketing for PowerReviews, and an experienced e-commerce technology marketer. When he’s not thinking about his day job, he’s running around after two small children in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood.