Why Men Don’t Read Product Reviews, and Why They Should

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A new survey backs up what we've all heard before: Guys don't have the patience for shopping. One of the effects of that is that they don't read product reviews. But there are ways to do that more quickly so you can save time and money.

A new survey suggests shopping online is like the real thing: Women care about the “experience,” while men just want to get the best deal and get out of there.

The study by Postcode Anywhere involved 1,000 people in the U.K., not the United States. But this sounds familiar…

“The poll agrees with a number of recent studies implying men prefer to read product descriptions and specifications than pore over online reviews. It has also been suggested that men respond less well to interaction in the buying process.”

The survey also found 36 percent more women than men rated customer reviews as “very important,” and that 22 percent more guys said reviews were irrelevant or didn’t matter much.

Why? Maybe because when it comes to money (and directions), men tend to assume they know what they’re doing even when they don’t. A New York Times story last year found men’s overconfidence hurt them as investors: “Male investors, as a group, appear to be overconfident… Women, on the other hand, appear more likely to acknowledge when they don’t know something – like the direction of the stock market or of the price of a stock or a bond.”

Sure, product descriptions can be helpful – when they avoid making features sound unique that aren’t. But reviews are more helpful – if you don’t waste time reading the lame ones. And with these tips, figuring out what to ignore will only take a few seconds. You should skip the ones that…

  1. Read like product descriptions. You’ve already read about all the feature highlights. What you need to hear about are reliability, sturdy construction, and value, which the description doesn’t cover.
  2. Vaguely praise. How often are you overly pleased with a product that did what you expected (and paid for) it to do? Skim and look for a reason why the product is so special. If it’s not there, move on.
  3. Lack specific complaints. Generally give more credibility to negative reviews, because it makes sense someone would want to review a product they’re unhappy with. But watch out for ones that just repeat things like “this sucks” or “it didn’t work.”
  4. Make no sense. Many reviews start out with this improbable but common sort of sentence: “This looked terrible but I bought it anyway.” They usually go on to say it’s surprisingly great. But why would you buy something that looked terrible? Don’t trust their judgment.
  5. Appear simultaneously. Several reviews posted in a short span of time probably came from the same source, and they may have bought it because they got a special bargain. (More cynically, the merchant could’ve paid fake reviewers to post a review.) The obvious exception is if the reviews all pop up right after the release date.
  6. Repeat the full product name. Unless they’re explicitly comparing models, ignore reviews that use the full name of a product more than once. These are probably spammers trying to game search engine results.

Also check out 11 Tips to Avoid Fake Reviews. And as the shopping season picks up, you may want to look at 5 Pitfalls of Online Holiday Shopping.

Stacy Johnson

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