Amazon Reviews Data

Amazon Reviews Data

This data was originally featured in the October 26, 2022 newsletter found here:

In this week’s Data Diaries, let’s do a bit of lateral thinking. What do data sources like Amazon reviews tell us? What sorts of things might they indicate? There’s the obvious conclusions, of course – ratings and reviews influence purchase decisions. However, we might use publicly available data like ratings and reviews for other purposes.

Let’s take the example of the Yankee Candle brand. These are fairly expensive (about US$20 or more per candle) candles that come in a variety of jars, and are known for their strong scents. Walking by a Yankee Candle store in a mall is never subtle, like someone taking a perfume or scent, spraying it on a baseball bat, and hitting you in the face with it as you pass by. You know when you’re near one.

They’re also sold on Amazon. Now, one of the characteristics of COVID-19, especially in the 2020-2021 variants, is its impact on your sense of smell. Two conditions – anosmia, or lack of a sense of smell, and parosmia, or a distorted sense of smell – are prevalent, especially in people with Long COVID. What would it look like if we examined Amazon reviews for Yankee candles? Would we see this impact?

To find this out, we extracted 41,150 unique reviews from Yankee Candle’s top 10 Amazon USA products, and then tagged reviews mentioning terms like “no scent” or “no smell” and variations thereof. What did we find?

Amazon reviews summary

What we see is fairly stunning – the number of reviews complaining about a distorted or absent smell correlates very strongly with the number of COVID cases in the USA. In fact, the correlation coefficient for this analysis is 0.72 – a very strong correlation. Looking at the chart above, the blue bars are the complaints and the red line is the number of reported COVID cases.

In fact, you’ll note that review complaints seem to begin to go upwards just before the reported cases – meaning that complaints may be a useful leading indicator that COVID cases are on the rise. This is especially helpful to know since testing data has become unreliable in many parts of the world.

This lesson alone – that user-generated content could have predictive power over matters of health and wellness – is useful by itself. However, if we wanted to bring it full circle back to marketing, let’s look at the average star ratings of these Yankee Candles:

Yankee candle ratings

What we see on a month by month basis in the blue lines is that once COVID started, the average candle rating dropped by almost an entire point, from an average around 4.0 to an average of 3.0-3.5. If you’re a marketer at Yankee Candle, this should be an object of immediate concern – ratings and reviews do enable sales, and you’ve got a widespread condition that is dampening people’s enthusiasm for your product and diminishing your reputation.

The key takeaway here is that user-generated content is a goldmine of useful insights for not just direct sales and marketing of your product, but for seeing how macro issues could be impacting your business as a whole. Be on the lookout for non-traditional data sources to analyze and lend additional insights to your business.

Methodology: Trust Insights extracted 41,150 unique reviews from’s top 10 Yankee Candle listings, filtering for 30 different combinations of complaints about scnet.. The timeframe of the data is January 1, 2018 – October 24, 2022. The date of study is October 25, 2022. Trust Insights is the sole sponsor of the study and neither gave nor received compensation for data used, beyond applicable service fees to software vendors, and declares no competing interests.

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