On Shopmium, users are invited to rate and review the products they buy. On average, 4 out of 10 users do this. Their feedback is a valuable source of insight for brands. Reviews are an excellent means to learn more about consumers and their expectations. It is also a way to identify areas for improvement and new product development.

The boom of online reviews


More and more consumers give their opinion online and this has a big impact on shopper behaviour. According to research from Feefo, more than 9 out of 10 UK consumers (94%) check online reviews before buying products and services. Online reviews are perceived as the most reliable source of information. 84% of consumers say feedback from real customers is the biggest influence on them, whereas only 52% depend mostly on the recommendations of friends and family.

The research also found that “sentiment”, reflecting how a customer feels about products or services, is by far the most influential aspect of a review (selected by 68%). Eight out of 10 millennials never buy anything without first reading a review, a study from TrustPilot has found.

In addition to their influence on purchasing decisions, reviews provide extremely useful information to brands on consumer behaviour allowing them to inform their strategic decisions and marketing strategy.

In a feature titled New Insights for New Growth: What it takes to understand your customers today, McKinsey says: “Developing a better understanding of customers is increasingly a strategic necessity, because fast-moving markets, new technologies, and new business models are changing what customers want and how they shop. Yet many companies still spend the bulk of their research budget on traditional techniques (e.g., focus groups, interviews, and surveys), or treat insights as an afterthought, which leaves them with a limited and often incorrect view of what customers want. That is a recipe for obsolescence in today’s economy.”

An opportunity to improve the customer experience


Brands can leverage online ratings and reviews to assess and improve the customer experience. KPMG has developed a customer experience analysis model based on six pillars:

  • Integrity: Being consistent and reliable over time to demonstrate trustworthiness. In practice, making sure promises are kept and that they match consumers’ values.
  • Personalisation: Using individualised attention to drive emotional connection. In practice, regularly assessing whether consumers’ specific circumstances are understood and the experience is adapted accordingly.
  • Resolution: Anticipating problems and fixing them quickly when they occur. In practice, evaluating the ability to fix issues and act with urgency to turn a poor experience into a great one.
  • Time and effort: Minimising customer effort and creating frictionless processes. In practice, removing unnecessary obstacles and impediments to enable consumers to achieve their objectives.
  • Expectations: Managing, meeting and exceeding consumer expectations. In practice, making sure known needs are covered and anticipating future needs.
  • Empathy: Achieving an understanding of consumers’ circumstances to drive deep rapport. In practice, understanding their point of view, fears, needs and priorities.

The insights obtained through online reviews can help act upon each of these six pillars to improve the overall customer experience and drive loyalty.

Rating reviews shopmium

Better understanding behaviours and expectations


UK consumers have strong expectations from brands. However there is a big disconnect between how marketers assess their effectiveness and the unfulfilled expectations of consumers as shown by the Acquia Closing the CX Gap: Customer Experience Trends Report 2019.

The research reveals that:

  • 90% of marketers say they are delivering engaging consumer experiences
  • Nearly half of consumers say brands don’t meet their expectations
  • Two-thirds of consumers could not recall when a brand exceeded expectations.

In this context, customer reviews can help FMCG brands:

  • Better understand behaviour: What are consumers’ buying motives? Why did they choose your product?
  • Understand the moments that matter the most to consumers and create value around them: At what moment of the day is your product consumed/used? What is the importance of this moment?
  • Ensure the product keeps its promises: Are consumers satisfied? Does your product meet their expectations? Or are consumers disappointed and are there issues that need to be addressed?
  • Create an offer adapted to consumer needs: Does your product meet true needs? Does it enable them to solve a problem?
  • Identify preferences: Which consumer categories does your product appeal to? What are the preferences of each category?
  • Anticipate the evolution of expectations and aspirations: Are expectations changing? What new trends are emerging?

How brands use customer insights


  • Unilever uses reviews to better understand behaviours and identify business opportunities. Jenna Spivak Evans, Innovation and Digital Capabilities Manager at Unilever told Bazaarvoice: “Getting customer feedback provides an ongoing way to gather information about how a product is doing and where there’s room for improvement”. One insight from the analysis of customer reviews of the TRESemmé Keratin Smooth line was that women who purchased the products often used a dry shampoo the next day to maintain the look they had achieved. However, the Keratin Smooth range did not have a dry shampoo offering. This insight created an opportunity for the brand to promote the dry shampoo it did have and to work with R&D to explore adding a dry shampoo to the Keratin Smooth line.


  • Estée Lauder created a Consumer Engagement Centre of Excellence in 2016, which centralises consumer learning and insight. The team has gathered insights into a diverse range of consumers and uses the learnings to drive innovation across the organisation. Lesley Crowther, Vice President of Consumer Engagement and Retail at The Estée Lauder Companies UK & Ireland, told Marketing Week: “It’s all about driving capability and understanding the consumer. There is a huge amount that we can learn and connect with across brand teams so we centralised a team to help better understand trends, consumer behaviour and to find out the way the consumer is evolving in the UK. We then consolidate and push out those learning to brands to drive and fuel their strategy.”


  • Coca-Cola is focusing on listening to customers for its explorer brands. The company divides brands into three categories: leaders, challengers and explorers. Javier Meza, Global Chief Marketing Officer, Sparkling, at The Coca-Cola Company, explained to Marketing Week that: “[The products under the Coca-Cola master brand have] a leadership position so the marketing model for that brand is not the same as what we want to do with a brand like Powerade because in most markets it is a challenger. And in some categories, we are not even a challenger, we are just exploring. The way we engage consumers is different, the way we do insight is different as well. For smaller explorer brands we are taking the new approach of more social listening and less of the structured research that we do with Coca-Cola; it’s trying to learn faster from the consumer”.


  • M&S recently introduced new technology to help shape its strategy around what customers want, with real-time customer feedback. Jo Moran, Head of Customer Service at M&S told Internet Retailing: “Putting the customer at the heart of everything we do is a real differentiator for M&S, especially as we look to grow our offer in an increasingly competitive retail market. The insight from the real-time customer feedback will help M&S become more relevant, more often to its customers as we listen and respond to their feedback in a faster and more streamlined way than ever before.

At a time when consumer knowledge is an increasingly strategic priority for brands, reviews are an important source of information and insights. Analysing reviews can contribute to better knowing consumers, identifying areas for product improvement as well as gaps in the product range and anticipating evolutions and new consumer aspirations. Taking reviews into account can help brands stay ahead in order to continue appealing to consumers, deliver an attractive experience and generate sales in-store. Brands that show they listen and care are also those that create the strongest bonds with consumers, driving long-term loyalty and sales.