Consumers demand action to stamp out fake reviews

data bFake news might be Donald Trump’s favourite put down – he even recently suggested that the coronavirus was a hoax – but it is fake reviews that are causing the most concern among consumers, with nearly three-quarters (72%) calling for a new set of GDPR-style standards to combat the issue.

Research conducted by digital marketing company Bazaarvoice among more than 10,000 consumers across the the UK, US, France, Germany and Australia, finds wide-spread loathing of firms which allow rogue reviews to be published.

In particular, consumers want only verified customers to be permitted to post reviews (43%), all products should be tried and tested by such consumers before launch (38%) and customer content should be reviewed on a daily basis to weed out the fakes (34%).

In the UK, consumers feel an appropriate level of punishment for brands in breach of these standards would be 12% of overall revenue. This compares to 4% of revenue in the instance of breaching GDPR.

Authenticity is crucial to building trust among consumers. Rather than anything brands convey in their ads or websites (16%), it is the shared positive experiences of friends and family (36%), other reviewers (29%) and direct, personal experiences of brands (71%) which determine trust the most.

Fake reviews are a key threat in this regard. In the UK, if consumers suspect a product to have fake or fraudulent reviews, 48% will not buy the product and 43% would lose trust for the brand. Once trust is lost, 78% of consumers state they avoid using the brand ever again, while 28% ensure they leave a negative review of the product they purchased.

Bazaarvoice chief revenue officer Joe Rohrlich said: “Among the top triggers that make consumers suspicious are multiple reviews with similar wording and an overwhelming number of very positive reviews, both of which are common for ecommerce sites. It is paramount that brands are reviewing customer content through technology-based and human moderation to account for the subtleties in one of the most challenging aspects of ecommerce.”

Another important lesson in keeping good faith between brand and consumer is the accessibility of negative reviews. Two-thirds (65%) of UK consumers express negative reviews are as important as positive reviews in their decision to purchase a product because they contain more detailed information on the product’s pros and cons as well as being less likely to be fraudulent.

However, fraudulent reviews from other customers are not the only way brands could lose trust. Poor quality products (61%), dishonest brand and product information (53%) as well as problems with customer service (49%) are all ranked by UK consumers as more likely to break their trust of the brand than what other customers may have said.

Rohrlich concluded: “Ultimately customer trust can be protected where brands prioritise honesty and responsiveness as core values. Alongside the right tools and expertise, brands should pursue new insights from customer content that can help enhance product design and production quality. In turn, this delivers both improved shopper experiences and a reduction in the return rates currently wreaking havoc upon the retail sector.”

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