July 28, 2021

Online fake customer reviews : practices, statistics and solutions in 2021.

Today, customer reviews are an active part of the user's buying process.

Indeed, 8 out of 10 Internet users check customer reviews before making their online purchases.

These feedbacks play an important role in the final decision of consumers and impact their confidence in the product : an item sold online with a majority of positive comments has a 95% chance of being added to the shopping cart of the person who reads them.

This is why managing consumer reviews has become a priority for brands looking to maximize positive reviews on their products in order to boost their sales.


Authentic online customer reviews: a powerful tool for online brands.


Customer reviews available on e-commerce sites offer interesting benefits for brands.

  • They allow brands to increase their visibility on the Internet by participating in the indexing of their pages on search motors.

Indeed, the presence of those reviews on online shops contributes to increase the number of mentions of brands, allowing them to have more visibility on the Internet and to stand out from their competitors.

  • Customer reviews impact a brand's reputation in the same way that word of mouth does.

    While negative reviews can do long-term damage to a company's reputation, positive customer reviews are a great way for companies to build a strong brand image.
  • Online reviews give greater credibility to brands : consumers who are not used to buying online are often reassured by the presence of feedback from other customers, whether they are positive or negative.

    Today, 68% of consumers have more trust when negative reviews appear among all the reviews of a product sold online.

In fact, the simple fact of reading other consumers' reviews allows for a positive impact on the user's experience and on the purchase act, whether they are positive or negative.

  • Online reviews reveal consumers' expectations about different products.

They allow brands to have a better understanding of their customers' expectations and to better grasp what consumers like and don't like.

To learn more about how consumer reviews can benefit your brand, check out the article, "Why is listening to your customer reviews way more important than you think?”


There are fake customer reviews on the Internet :


With the high impact of positive reviews, some businesses write "fake customer reviews" in order to boost their sales.

Today, two situations in which companies publish fake reviews are seen :

  • Some brands decide to post non-authentic reviews with very high ratings and to write positive comments about their own products.

This strategy aims to gain the trust of Internet users and convince them to buy.

As the reviews often appear in a chronological order, companies often publish this type of review to hide more average feedback, published earlier by customers dissatisfied with their purchase.

  • Some brands decide to write reviews not on their own site, but on their competitors' sites.

They respond to their strategy of discouraging potential customers from buying from other brands by following a negative rating trend.


Can we trust online customer reviews?


First of all, fake customer reviews published about a brand and its products cannot be published on all types of online platforms.

Some spaces are more prone to receiving unauthenticated reviews than others.

For example, it is less easy for a brand to publish fake customer reviews on a multi-brand sales platform, over which it has no control, than on its online store, where it can more easily modify the reviews on its site.

Multi-brand platforms can therefore be more reliable regarding the authenticity of published reviews.

Moreover, more and more online sales sites set up tools to guarantee the authenticity of the collected reviews :

  • They restrict the ability to write feedback on a product to buyers only.
  • The writing of reviews is done via a link sent to consumers a few weeks after their purchase, inviting them to share their opinion.

These strategies allow the gathering of reviews from consumers who have tested and used the products they are talking about, and therefore ensure the collection of 100% authentic and reliable feedbacks.

Furthermore, although consumers may be tempted to publish reviews that are not purely objective, statistical analysis shows that feedbacks with extreme ratings, as to say 1/5 or 5/5, are only a minority.

The proportion of "extreme" ratings is much lower than the proportion of intermediate ratings (between 2/5 and 4/5) : a product is rarely perfect or disastrous, and consumers often find reasons to balance their comments !


To guarantee the publication of authentic customer reviews, their online publication is framed by the law :


Companies are now subject to legal obligations regarding the use and management of customer reviews on their products.

Indeed, they are obliged to specify whether the reviews on their site are checked before publication or not.

Their publishing date must also be mentioned, which allows moderators to detect a wave of very good or very bad reviews that would be suspicious.

It is also important to know that a company that would engage in this type of practice could face up to two years of imprisonment and a €37,500 fine.


How does Voysen successfully measure the authenticity of consumer reviews and detect fake ones among the analysis performed ?


Voysen offers a solution for aggregating and analyzing consumer reviews for cosmetic brands.

We collect different reviews published on various French and American websites, and provide beauty brands with an accurate and detailed analysis through a dashboard.

We make sure that the data we use comes from trusted websites.

To do so, we collect consumer reviews from platforms where those are managed by NF-certified players such as Avis Vérifiés or Bazaarvoice.

The NF certification, issued by Afnor, is a guarantee of quality and ensures that strict processes are followed for the gathering of opinions, their moderation and their publication by the different certified platforms.

This certification therefore guarantees the authenticity of the reviews published on the certified sites.

It gives consumers who read them access to reliable and trustworthy reviews.

In a second step, Voysen performs various quality tests within its review database.

These additional evaluations and analysis allow us to identify possible biases and to correct them.

Conclusion


If fake customer reviews are still found on some websites, solutions are being developed to limit them.

The various methods implemented to reduce the number of fake reviews published on some platforms are now succeeding in making "customer review" areas on online boutiques more reliable areas, that consumers can use with complete confidence.

Today, those customer review spaces are also useful for brands to have a better knowledge of their consumers.

Find out how our analysis helped Clarins renovate one of its lip products and respond to the arrival of products competing with one of its star products : https://www.voysen.com/english/use-cases 



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