‘F’ is for Fake: calling out rogue brands
Online gives digital shoppers the convenience and ease of buying what they want, when they want and where they want. All with the glowing reassurance of making the right purchase choice through positive customer reviews. Unless of course those reviews happen to be fake.
Being the type of person who likes digging into research, I’ve personally experienced more and more fake reviews popping up across retailer websites. This includes Amazon, backed up by a study suggesting 30% of their reviews are unreliable. I’ve found this to be especially true for tech-based gadgets with unfamiliar brand/product names. It’s reported some less scrupulous operators on both sides of the fence are happy to provide guaranteed positive reviews in return for either payment or free products. This is despite many of these reviews carrying ‘verified customer’ status.
Turning detective, you can sniff out some tell-tale signs of fakery. These include:
Reviews clustered around a small range of dates
Reviews using a similar list of plaudits and language
Reviewers posting lots of product reviews across a concentrated range of dates
However, this won’t necessarily help identify some of the more ‘professional’ charlatans seeking to bolster poor-quality products. And with research showing that 91% of people regularly or occasionally read online reviews this means associated retailers while innocent of any wrong doings themselves are at risk of being tarnished by association with an erosion of consumer trust.
So, what a delight to discover technology can also help people purchase genuine quality products by shining a spotlight on fake rogues. The free online tool Fakespot enables consumers to enter the URL of product reviews. This crunches the data through AI algorithms to establish how genuine the reviews are. It then grades the overall reviews from A to F while providing additional insights. As you’ll see from my screengrab below for a Robot Vacuum cleaner on Amazon - at first glance this looks reassuringly positive with over 1,000 people providing an average rating of 4.5 stars. However, the analysis unearths only 15.8% of those reviews are classified as reliable leading to an alarm bell ringing ‘F’ grade.
With the option of browser plugins embedding this into partner sites including Amazon, TripAdvisor and Best Buy, it couldn’t be simpler to use in providing consumers with valuable insights to help assess the true quality of a product or service.
And while online reputation becomes more and more business critical, genuine ‘good’ reputable brands shouldn’t fear the odd negative comment or constructive criticism. In fact, the more forward thinking will seek to embrace this as a source of customer insight and engagement to identify possible product improvements. Arguably an important facet of brand authenticity in action.
UPDATE 17/04/19 - article posted on LinkedIn Daily Rundown: