Many people making key purchases, such as a new bed or mattress, ask their family and friends for their experiences and recommendations. However, in today’s digital world, they often turn to the advice of complete strangers – relying on their online reviews.

It is frankly amazing how many people actually trust those reviews as much as personal recommendations and we would advise anyone in the market for a new bed or mattress to be extremely careful about basing their purchase on internet opinions alone.

Before using online mattress reviews for their next purchase, consumers should take the following points into consideration:-

Remember, only you can decide which mattress is best for you
Mattress buying can take several weeks, partly because there are so many variables when it comes to choosing a mattress. Online reviews can help you start whittling down some of your choices, while providing information on what other people liked and didn’t like about certain options. Keep in mind, these opinions are based on the reviewers’ preferences and may not match yours. One person’s idea of a soft mattress may be another person’s idea of a firm one. Online reviewers will likely be ranking and rating mattresses based on their own needs and wants. These reviews often don’t take into account other factors that may be important to you, like whether the mattress is hypoallergenic or if it comes with an extended warranty.

Take all reviews with a pinch of salt
As we said earlier, many consumers trust online reviews as much as the personal recommendations from family and friends. What some shoppers do not know, however, is the pervasiveness of fake reviews. A significant percentage of online reviews can be phony and it can be difficult, or nearly impossible, to tell fake reviews from real ones. That doesn’t mean shoppers should disregard online reviews entirely. But it helps to read them with caution, and use them as one source to consider when looking to buy, not the only one. In addition to reviews, we would suggest researching independent bed buying advice such as the National Bed Federation’s Bed Buyer’s Guide https://bedadvice.co.uk/bed-buyers-guide/

Search for signs of brand allegiance
The job of a mattress reviewer is, well, a cushy gig. Some mattress manufacturers provide reviewers with complimentary products in exchange for write-ups (this is true in many other industries, too). Reviewers may even get paid when shoppers click on a hyperlink in the review that sends them to the mattress manufacturer’s website where they buy a bed. This is known as affiliate marketing and according to a recent report, in 2016 in the USA, affiliate marketing was estimated to be a $4.5 billion business!
The affiliate practice is not designed to be harmful, but it’s fair to say the practice incentivises reviewers to write glowingly about their most profitable mattresses. Shoppers should look for the small print with reviewers who profit from buyers using their links.

Look for more than signs in the stars
Many review sites focus on rating mattresses through a five-star system. While that model of grading is common, it is also somewhat flawed. Not all reviewers have the same standards for their stars. Some regularly give out three stars as a matter of habit; others give five stars unless an exceptional flaw gives them grounds for fewer. This approach is common among online reviews, not just those for mattresses. For example, researchers at Boston University found that 95% of experiences on Airbnb, the home-sharing site, received ratings of 4.5 to 5. Of course, not every apartment or home is perfect, nor is every mattress perfect for everybody. So buyers should consider the all-or-nothing nature of star ratings. It is important to also consider the motivation behind the reviewer, and both the positive and negative comments along with the star ratings.

Remember you’ll do your best research lying down
Buyers can read every online review and gaze at every 4.7-star rating, but no research truly substitutes for testing a mattress in person. Your online research can give you a starting place for understanding your options, but until you have a chance to lie on the bed, you won’t know if it’s the right fit for you. The National Bed Federation and the Sleep Council recommend that consumers take their time, 15 minutes, on each mattress they’re thinking about buying. This helps you decide whether the mattress that looked good online actually feels good to you.

Thanks to Mary Helen Rogers at our American counterpart, The Better Sleep Council, for providing the basis for this blog.

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