Online review platforms provide potential customers the opportunity to consume information; however, whether they are researching experience goods or search goods can change how the review influences their purchase decision.

Experience Goods are products or services with features and characteristics that are difficult to accurately make purchase choices for before personally using the good, such as movies.

Search Goods are products or services with features and characteristics that consumers can be informed of prior to purchase, like verifying the product specifications and price.

Reviews are recommendations based on evaluating products or services with peer-generated ratings and comments. Generally, reviews are posted with a 1 to 5-star rating and provide the opportunity to write an open-ended comment.

Besides the fact that reviews are heavily trusted for providing a sense of community online, they give consumers deeper insight to familiarize, understand, and evaluate products beyond the specifications advertised by a company. This isn’t to be misinterpreted as a negative for a business, especially because reviews attract visitors, increase time spent on a website, and can be used as a method of reputation management (check out this article to understand why Overcoming Fears of Online Reviews is a Must).

Popular review sites have increased the information available to help customers make better decisions and some platforms have responded to the surge by allowing review readers to measure how helpful the review was, simply by marking yes or no to “Was this review helpful to you?”

Reviews can then be sorted by helpfulness to reduce uncertainty in the decision-making process and provide more value through enhanced source credibility. Understanding how different types of goods are evaluated when writing reviews can help businesses focus on the type of feedback acquired and how helpful it is to future customers.


Reviews for Experience Goods 

  • Extreme: 1 or 5-star Reviews – Products and services that are rated either 1 or 5-stars are perceived to be less effective than moderate reviews. Because reviews on experience goods are recommended based on personal opinion rather than facts, many of these reviews are bias and can change per customer depending on the situation.
  • Moderate: 3-star Reviews – Moderate reviews for experience goods are the identified as the most helpful by potential customers because they provide more facts than opinions. Generally, 3-star reviews for experience goods will help customers make a decision between one brand or another because the comment left identifies the reason a product was selected over its competition.
  • Helpful Comments: Encouraging feedback that lists the pros and cons of experienced goods can help explain both the tangible and intangible qualities of a product, therefore allowing the customer to make a logic decision based on facts.

Reviews for Search Goods

  • Extreme: 1 or 5-star Reviews – Products and services that are rated either 1 or 5-stars are perceived to be the most effective.  Most of the information for search goods can be found in the product specifications and potential customers are more interested in the opinion of their peers on value or function to make a decision on one product over its competition.
  • Moderate: 3-star Reviews – Search goods that are rated moderately are less helpful than the extremes because they tend to reiterate information that potential customers could find on their own. These reviews are seen as unbiased and provide more facts than opinions.
  • Helpful Comments: Longer comments that encourage reviewers to explain their personal use and application of the search goods provides potential customers with more value. Individuals can find reviews that better match their reason for purchase or help answer questions not addressed in the product specifications.

Consumers tend to favor helpful reviews and compare them to alternative products so they know they’re making better decisions and increase their confidence in a brand. Understanding how different types of goods are evaluated can help businesses focus on the type of feedback acquired.

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