Most consumers trust review sites. Here’s what they use them for most

Graeme BruceBusiness Data Journalist
May 19, 2021, 3:02 PM UTC

Online reviews can make or break a business. Customer opinions – distilled into a star rating, short paragraph, and images – help potential customers make countless spending decisions, from what takeaway to order to what car to buy. 

And new YouGov data on the topic reveals the power of crowd-sourced sites such as Yelp, Trustpilot, or Google Reviews. 

In the United States, a majority of consumers (54% of adults) trust such sites, while 21% indicated distrust. Similar attitudes are held in the United Kingdom, where 53% of consumers have confidence in these sites while only 18% do not. 

Young consumers, age 18-39, are considerably more likely to trust these sites on both sides of the Atlantic (66% in the US and 68% in Britain). 

Notably, a sizable proportion of consumers in general haven’t made up their mind about these sites, with 24% in the US and 29% in Britain still undecided about their reliability. However Americans (41%) are nearly twice as likely as Brits (22%) to turn to online critiques to choose where to eat. 

One in five Americans – and one in ten Brits – consult audience reviews of movies. Sites such as Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic, and IMDB all offer users the opportunity to play movie critic themselves, with aggregate scores sometimes appearing within user interfaces of streaming platforms. 

As vaccination efforts allow restrictions ease, travel is starting to reopen and sites like TripAdvisor, Expedia and Booking.com are integral to holiday planning on both sides of the Atlantic. Between 14% and 16% of Brits and Americans have either used these sites to research accommodations or destinations in the last 12 months. 

One in six (16%) Americans may head to a website like Glassdoor to find reviews of a potential employer, making them more than twice as likely to do so as their British counterparts (7%). 

As online shopping ramped up during periods of lockdown since March 2020 and in-person browsing was all but impossible, consumers may have become more reliant on reviews from current owners. In our poll, consumers took into account crowd-sourced reviews for tech products (14% in the US and 14% in GB), healthcare providers (14% and 4%), appliances (13% and 13%), vehicles (13% and 9%) and video games (13% and 6%). 

Data also shows an overwhelming majority of consumers in both the US and Britain find these sites to be useful – 78% of Americans and 79% of Brits say so. 

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Methodology: YouGov polled 1,200 US adults and 1,200 British adults online on April 26, 2021 between 3:35 p.m. ET and 5:05 p.m. ET. The survey was carried out through YouGov Direct. Data is weighted and nationally representative of adults in the United States and Great Britain. The margin of error is +/-4.5% in the US and +/- 5.1 in the UK for the overall sample. Learn more about YouGov Direct.