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Making sense of online consumer reviews: a methodology

Vol. 55 No. 4, 2013 p.521–537

Karen Robson, Mana Farshid, John Bredican and Stephen Humphrey

Online consumer reviews have become an increasingly important source of information for both consumers (i.e. about whether to buy) and marketers (i.e. about product strengths and weaknesses). However, online consumer reviews are unstructured and unsystematic in nature, making interpretation of these reviews an enormous challenge. The current paper sheds light on a particular methodology that can be used to investigate what consumers say about companies, brands or products. Consumer reviews of the four best-selling games available on Apple’s App Store were compiled. Leximancer, a content analysis package, was used to compare comments from users who provided games with a five-star rating versus a one-star rating. Results from the Leximancer analysis reveal the most common themes and concepts that consumers use to describe their experience with these games. Specifically, five-star reviewers describe games as fun, awesome, amazing and addictive; one-star reviewers describe games as boring, easy and stupid. Additionally, negative reviews include themes regarding the presence of ads, technological difficulties and value. Future research should explore how consumers and marketers use this information.


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