Reviews Matter

What we learned from reviews in 2020

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

If it’s been said once, it’s been said a thousand times: 2020 has been a year unlike any other. And in a year unlike any other, the reviews left on Trustpilot have reflected the frustration, pain, and optimism that we as a society have felt throughout the past 12 months.

At Trustpilot, we’re looking back at the reviews that consumers like you have written and reflecting on the information that was shared in these reviews, what trends we saw emerge, and what it may tell us about the future.

There was low tolerance for personal protective equipment that was poor quality or delayed

A trend that we saw emerge at the beginning of COVID-19 that remained constant were consumer complaints about personal protective equipment that was faulty, delayed, or advertised in a misleading way.

Masks were one of the most complained about pieces of COVID-19 protective equipment. Especially masks that had defective pieces or that compromised safety in some way were unacceptable to consumers. Many left reviews cautioning others against purchasing from the companies that sold these poor quality masks.

Review of Zorosy
Review of International Boots
Review of Zorosy 2

There were also a huge number of negative reviews around businesses that didn’t fulfill delivery promises leaving consumers without protective equipment.

Review of Zazzle
Review of Tee2n1

It’s no doubt that personal protective equipment will continue to be a top concern as the pandemic continues, with an emphasis on quality products and timely delivery driving consumer satisfaction.

Travel refunds and restrictions were, and continue to be, a major consumer pain point

It’s no secret that the travel industry had a devastating year and global travel may not return to pre-pandemic levels until as late as 2024. And while many businesses in the travel industry have done their best to pivot and serve customer needs during this unprecedented time, we saw a wave of customer dissatisfaction and negative reviews for companies who had slow response times or weren’t able to provide financial recourse for consumers with affected travel plans.

Review of Villa Plus
Review of Staysure Travel Insurance

Meanwhile, many travel businesses, especially airlines, are changing their policies to make travel more flexible and friendly for cautious travelers. While it remains to be seen if these consumer-friendly changes will stick around, consumers will look to work with businesses that can help them get back to traveling safely and with financial peace of mind.

Businesses that made consumers a priority were praised in reviews

This has been the year of consumer choice. With thousands of businesses immediately moving to an eCommerce model and with the need to purchase many essentials from your computer or phone, consumers have the power. As described above, businesses who weren’t able to quickly adapt and serve consumer needs fully have been criticized or abandoned in favor of businesses putting the consumer first.

However, many businesses went above and beyond this year to make sure that their customers’ needs were prioritized. We saw an outpouring of people thanking these businesses in their reviews on Trustpilot.

Review of Ringwood Pharmacy
Review of boohooMAN
Review of Seedsman

Consumers sought out small businesses and brands that aligned with their values

With thousands of small businesses closing or at risk of closing due the challenges brought on by 2020, many consumers have rallied to support small and local businesses. We’ve seen overwhelming evidence of this in reviews, where customers proudly identify that they’ve chosen to support a small or local business when leaving reviews on Trustpilot.

Review of UkuleleMate
Review of PITT BALM

We’ve also seen tremendous support for businesses that support their community or charitable causes. In a year with so much need, consumers used reviews to praise businesses who give back.

Review of Trinity CBC
Review of Women's Bean Project

Black-owned businesses were frequently mentioned in reviews

This year has brought about social justice advocacy on a global scale not seen in nearly a lifetime. With the Black Lives Matter movement acting as a catalyst for change in many aspects of everyday life, Trustpilot is beginning to see evidence of this change in reviews. More and more frequently, consumers are taking the opportunity to call out if a business is Black-owned while also addressing other aspects of their experience with a business.

Review of Very Puzzled
Review of Deep Rooted Juice Co.
Review of fleekyfriday

As we continue to see support for small business and social justice issues as a top priority for consumers, we anticipate that consumers will continue to include revealing information about business ownership or their values when they leave reviews on Trustpilot.

So, what does 2021 have in store?

While we all hold our breath and anxiously await the end of 2020, many of us are asking “What will 2021 be like?” It remains to be seen how long we will continue living through the global pandemic, however some experts are expecting us to reach mass immunization sometime in the second half of 2021. With that timeline, we can look at trends from 2020 and expect them to hold, at least, through the first half of the year.

  • This year saw a significant increase in demand for courier and delivery services which is likely to continue so long as we are distancing ourselves from friends and family and avoiding in-person experiences.
  • At the outset of COVID-19, we saw increased review activity for hobby stores, gaming service providers, and garden centers, indicating that people were looking for ways to occupy their time at home. If global shutdowns continue during winter (even if only for temporary periods), we can expect that there will be continued interest in finding activities that can be done from home.
  • As mentioned above, with the rise of BLM protests this summer, we saw increased interest in supporting Black-owned businesses and, more generally, a desire to support businesses that were mission-driven or socially responsible. It’s likely we will continue to see consumers opt to spend their money at businesses that align with their values and priorities.
  • New scams emerged during COVID-19 as the rapid shift to online, sky high demand for PPE, and increased government financial assistance created ample opportunities for scammers. As vaccines become widely distributed, there will likely be more opportunity for scammers to take advantage of consumers looking to get their hands on a vaccine quickly, as well as other dubious activities related to COVID-19 recovery.

Businesses and consumers will remain closer than ever

At Trustpilot, we know reviews matter to both businesses and consumers and that they will look to one another for support and trust. This year, we’ve seen consumers thank businesses who went above and beyond to put their needs first, and leave feedback for businesses who weren’t able to rise to the challenge. Consumers demanded that businesses reveal their COVID-19 response plan for employees, political affiliations, and efforts to support social justice initiatives — those that didn’t saw consumers make their purchases elsewhere. Many local communities rallied to support local businesses and started fundraisers to help the businesses make it through a difficult year.

While it has truly been a year unlike any other, we look forward to seeing how these trends continue, and what new trends emerge in 2021. We know that reviewers can continue to reveal what they expect from businesses and be heard in the reviews that they leave on Trustpilot.

Trustpilot is a review platform that is open to all. The companies and profile pages referenced in this article are provided for informational purposes only and are not recommended, endorsed by, or representative of the views of Trustpilot. The Trustpilot companies linked in this post are expected to abide by Trustpilot’s Guidelines, but have not been reviewed for compliance.


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