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Retailers need to act on fake reviews

March 5, 2020

72% of consumers are calling for a new set of standards to combat fake reviews according to a Bazaarvoice study of over 10,000 consumers which highlights the need for the retail industry to act.

Research conducted by digital marketing company, Bazaarvoice Inc, conducted among more than 10,000 consumers across the US, UK, France, Germany and Australia, finds almost three quarters (72%) of consumers feel the retail sector needs a new set of standards to combat fake reviews.

In particular, these standards should stipulate that only verified customers are allowed to post reviews (43%), all products should be tried and tested by such consumers before launch (38%) and that customer content should be reviewed on a daily basis to weed out fake reviews (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.

According to the study, authenticity is crucial to building trust among consumers. Rather than anything brands convey in their adverts 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.

Bazaarvoice Inc says that once established, trust is not a fickle thing. In fact, 54% of consumers in the UK would buy from the brand again even after a negative product experience, so long as the brand had not lost their trust.

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.

Joe Rohrlich, CRO, Bazaarvoice comments: “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, Bazaarvoice Inc says. Two thirds of UK consumers (65%) 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 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, according to the study. Poor quality products (61%), dishonest brand & 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.

Joe Rohrlich concludes: “Ultimately customer trust can be protected where brands prioritise honesty and responsivity 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.”

The research was commissioned by Bazaarvoice and conducted by Savanta among 10,000 consumers. 2,000 respondents were representatively sourced per region in the UK, US, France, Germany and Australia.

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