Shoppers Demand Protection From Fake Reviews
Fake reviews have made headline news over the past few years. It’s an issue that affects brands and retailers of all sizes, and has today’s shoppers on high alert. Because almost all (95 percent) shoppers use ratings and reviews to evaluate or learn more about products, we wanted to better understand how fake reviews affect consumer behavior. After surveying 10,000 global shoppers, we learned that consumers may take their business away from websites they suspect to have fake reviews. Many consumers even want the federal government to start providing regulation over fake reviews as well.
How Consumers Are Responding to Fake Reviews
Brand trust is one of the most important assets a company can have in today’s retail landscape. Our research found that fake reviews pose a major risk to that trust, which, in turn, has an effect on businesses’ bottom lines. Survey respondents said that fraudulent reviews from a brand’s employees (42 percent) and from other customers (34 percent) would cause them to lose trust in a brand. After losing trust in a brand, a vast majority (82 percent) of consumers would avoid purchasing from the brand ever again. If shoppers suspect a product to have fake reviews, 36 percent wouldn't purchase the product, and 28 percent wouldn't trust the brand. On the other hand, if a company hasn't lost their trust, 54 percent of shoppers would still buy from the brand again after one negative experience.
In order to combat fake reviews, almost three-quarters (72 percent) of global consumers think the retail industry needs to enact a new set of standards. They believe that these standards should dictate that only customers who made verified purchases are able to post reviews (43 percent), that all products should be tried and tested by legitimate consumers before launch (38 percent), and there must be a daily review of customer content to weed out fake reviews. Respondents said that an appropriate level of punishment for brands in breach of these proposed standards is a fine of almost 16 percent of the brand’s revenue.
What Brands and Retailers Can Do to Combat Fake Reviews
In order to help your customers feel confident about turning to their peers for insights via product reviews, make sure your reviews are authentic and be transparent about how you collect them. We have three golden rules when it comes to how companies should protect consumer trust in product reviews:
- Do not allow. Be aware of the different ways fake reviews can infiltrate your website, such as through disruptive or trolling activity, commercial messages, automated submissions (like bots), illegitimate or degrading content by a competitor, and self-promotion by employees.
- Don't screen out negative content — find value in it. Over half (60 percent) of our survey respondents said that negative reviews are as important as positive reviews in their purchase decisions. Negative reviews are an opportunity for engaging with consumers and identifying potential product improvements.
- Be transparent about how you collect reviews. Regardless of how a review is collected, brands should never ask for or incentivize consumers to submit positive reviews; consumers should always feel empowered to provide their honest feedback.
At the end of the day, a reputation for fake reviews can damage both your business reputation and your bottom line. In an era shaped by misinformation and fake news in which brand trust is at an all-time low, we all need to work together to combat fake reviews to make sure that the voice of our peers continues to be a trusted source.
Joe Rohrlich is chief revenue officer of Bazaarvoice, the provider of product reviews and user-generated content (UGC) solutions.
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