Shopper marketing blog

Shopper Reviews for Moisturisers - Quality vs Quantity

Posted by Paul on Jan 30, 2024 3:27:11 PM
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This time we are looking at the face & body moisturiser category in the UK. We particularly want to look at which companies and brands are doing well i.e., have good positive reviews that are up to date and will influence shoppers and those who need to be a bit smarter.

We are also keen to understand more about moisturisers from a shoppers' perspective. What do they say about the category, what language do they use to describe it, and how do they see the relative merits of brands?

To do this, we have gathered and analysed all the reviews on facial and body moisturisers in the top UK online supermarkets since 2020. We processed them through quality control, removing all the unhelpful “!!!!!!!!” etc., that some reviewers like to use, then pivoted, tabled, graphed, AI-analysed, discussed, and debated. Finally, we came out with what we think are the more interesting points about the moisturiser reviews in UK supermarkets.

We focussed on the top 6 brands analysed, selected by the total number of reviews found across ASDA, Tesco, Sainsbury's, Morrisons, and Ocado for 2020 - 2023.

  1. Brands with more reviews, have lower quality reviews
  2. The most popular Shopper dimensions for moisturiser are:
    1. Absorbs Easily – Doesn’t Absorb easily
    2. Not Greasy - Greasy
    3. Smells great – Does not smell Great
    4. Good for Dry skin – Not good for dry skin
    5. Good for Sensitive skin – Not good for sensitive skin
    6. Good for Lines/wrinkles – Not good for lines/wrinkles
    7. Good to Soft skin – Not good to soften skin
  3. Despite having lots of reviews all brands need new reviews on the majority of SKUs.

Higher Volume – Lower Quality vs Lower Volume Higher Quality

The table below shows the Top 6 brands we found based on the total number of reviews counted across ASDA, Tesco, Sainsbury's, Morrisons and Ocado in 2023 to focus on the most relevant (reviews go back to 2009 with over 100,000 in total).

CheckoutSmart Moisturiser 2023 Top 6-1

If it is all about the volume of reviews to impress shoppers, then Nivea is the winner, and the rest can go home. We don’t believe it is that simple, however. Our research and others have concluded that you need at least 30 reviews on an SKU to maximise the shopper's credibility, but beyond 50 reviews, any impact is marginal. On average, all the brands meet these thresholds in 2023, but there is considerable variation by SKU.

The average review score or star rating is also within quite a narrow range, just 4.4 – 4.8. Again, our research would say shoppers don’t discriminate between ratings in this range. So, you might quite reasonably ask, what does make a difference?

When we look at reviews, we look at how influential an individual review is. By this, we mean, how likely is the review to influence an individual shopper to buy the product? We calculate an Influence score* for all the reviews in a category and then create a percentage ranking for each product and brand.

*Our “Influence score” is calculated using an AI LLM model that has been specifically trained using tens of thousands of ratings from thousands of online shoppers’ scores of how influential they see a review.

CheckoutSmart Moisturiser 2023 Top 10 SKUs

L’Oréal SKUs have the highest influence reviews 5 of the Top 10. Here are some examples of their more influential reviews as seen on a retailer site:

CheckoutSmart Moisturiser 2023 Loreal text-1

As you can see each review is 2 - 4 sentences long, is written in reasonably good English, and describes the benefits and usage. The Bottom 10 SKUs by contrast are below:

CheckoutSmart Moisturiser 2023 Bottom 10 SKUs

This time Olay is the brand that dominates with 8 of the Bottom 10 SKUs. Here are some of the more recent low-influence reviews on the same retailer site:

CheckoutSmart Moisturiser 2023 Olay text-1

The reviews are significantly shorter, just saying it was good, not why or how, and then a recommendation, altogether not that convincing to shoppers. The third one, however, is gibberish and could give rise to concern amongst shoppers about the quality of all the product reviews on this product.

Looking at the chart below, comparing the number of reviews and the average Influence Score, it is difficult not to conclude that in the pursuit of more reviews, these brands have received fewer influential reviews.

CheckoutSmart Moisturiser 2023 Review quality-1


The Moisturiser functional dimensions

Looking across all the reviews we found between 2020 and 2023 (giving us the richest possible relevant data set) we used a specifically trained AI LLM to understand what language is used to describe Moisturisers which is not used generally. This found 6 dimensions of words and phrases that grouped as:

  1. Absorbs Easily – Doesn’t Absorb easily
  2. Not Greasy - Greasy
  3. Smells great – Does not smell Great
  4. Good for Dry skin – Not good for dry skin
  5. Good for Sensitive skin – Not good for sensitive skin
  6. Good for Lines / wrinkles – Not good for lines/wrinkles
  7. Good to Soft skin – Not good to soften skin

We then took the Top 6 brands in terms of number of reviews, in this case:

CheckoutSmart Moisturiser 2020 2023 Top 6

We then analysed where each of the brands was on each of the dimensions according to the comments by shoppers. Effectively how often shoppers wrote reviews containing the relevant words or phrases about those brands when compared to the average of the Top 6 above.

When we plotted the positions, we get this spider diagram:

CheckoutSmart Moisturiser 2020 2023 Top 6 spider-1According to supermarket reviewers across more than 100,000 reviews:

  • Aveeno absorbs easily and is excellent for sensitive skin
  • Garnier Smells great but offer much else apart from it absorbs quite well
  • L’Oreal is best for Lines / wrinkles and also absorbs easily
  • Olay is second best for lines and wrinkles, smells pretty good and is second best for soft skin
  • Nivea is strongest on average, leading for soft skin, absorbing easily and smells great
  • Waleda leads by a long way for Dry skin and also smells great

If you were the brand manager for these brands, this analysis reveals what shoppers are saying in unprompted reviews. If these reflections align with your desired brand message—a crucial aspect of retail media—then your efforts have been successful. However, if shoppers' perceptions do not mirror your ideal positioning, it's imperative to investigate the reasons. Could it be related to product delivery, your communication strategy, or the way products are described on the packaging?

Most Brands need new reviews

You might be forgiven for thinking that with 100,000 reviews in the last few years and an average of 318 per SKU, surely they don’t need more reviews.

If we ignore the question of quality/influence score for the moment, we know that the ideal set of reviews to influence shoppers for a single SKU in a retailer are:

  • At least 30 in number
  • All the latest 3 reviews or the “Top 3” should be:
    • Fresh ie less than 6 months old
    • Have a rating that is representative of the brand ie within 1.5 Stars of the average

Using our Company review format, which is available free on request to any manufacturer in any category we can see that 83% of their SKUs across the retailers need new reviews. 71% have less than 30 visible reviews.

Exactly 35% of SKUs have at least one Top 3 review that is more than 6 months old and 29% have a Top 3 review that is more than 1.5 stars less than the average, eg a 1-star review when the average is 4.2.

CheckoutSmart Moisturiser 2020 2023 Top 6 Company review summary-1


This Company Status report by manufacturer also shows this need for SKUs by retailer and by brands as well as some examples Top 3 poor reviews. Request yours here.

In addition to this free report, you are also welcome to contact us regarding a comprehensive report that details the status of all SKUs for your brands across all retailers, known as our "Top 3" report.



We should expect shopper reviews to vary in quality, as individuals' motivation and writing skills differ significantly. It is somewhat surprising, however, to note the extent and consistency of this variation in review quality across different brands.

Shoppers of moisturisers have clear preferences regarding the product attributes they value, and brands are distributed fairly evenly across these dimensions. If all attributes were equally important to every shopper (which, of course, they are not), then Nivea would seem to be performing the best overall, leading in soft skin, easy absorption, and pleasant scent.

Despite tens of thousands of reviews, over 80% of SKUs require new ones to optimise their impact on shoppers. Brands need a program that smartly uses data to monitor the status of every SKU across all retailers and automatically takes appropriate action. The CheckoutSmart SmartReputation Always On program does exactly this.

There is even more actionable insight to be found in these moisturiser reviews, and we possess the data for all categories. If you are committed to making significant inroads in eCommerce and maximizing your sales opportunities daily, working with us on reviews is essential. Our unique smart data is user-friendly and can assist in conserving resources by targeting review quality and indicating when and where they are needed.


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Topics: FMCG, Rating and Reviews, Shopper Insights, Insights

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