Nick Drewe, who is a retail expert and Founder of online platform Wethrift, discusses exactly how the practice has become commonplace amongst brands and sellers on the site, as well as guidance for consumers on how to spot if a positive write-up for a product is genuine or potentially fake.
“Review incentivisation, using bribes of vouchers, free products, or refunding the cost of an item - is nothing new among ecommerce sites. Yet, the findings revealed in this recently published Which? study indicates that, worryingly, it is occurring in even higher levels than before.
This is across different brands and sellers using Amazon to market their products, and stay one step ahead of their competition in an entirely unethical manner. This practice, in turn, could be misleading millions of consumers each year into purchasing items they falsely believe are being honestly reviewed and recommended by like-minded consumers.
“Many businesses will use the ratings they boast on Amazon as an incentive to persuade shoppers into believing their products are far superior to their competitors. What’s more, when browsing for items they're looking to purchase, many shoppers will naturally gravitate towards those with the highest number of five-star ratings, in order to ensure they're receiving the best quality product, regardless of how much extra it may be costing them price-wise.
“Whilst it can be hard to identify if a review is genuine or if one has been incentivised by a business into leaving a not entirely accurate review, there are certain things savvy shoppers can look out for online that may indicate they have been falsified:
Does the reviewer have a strong historical profile history?
If a particular review has caught your attention and you're questioning whether or not everything included within it can be trusted, be sure to delve into the profile history of the individual who has left the write-up. This is to see if their previous reviews on a site, the tone of voice they’ve used and their general purchasing habits seem to correlate.
Have they only given other products similarly high “gold star” reviews, or have they also documented their more negative or average responses to purchases made? As this would make them seem more genuine in their answers.
Also, please take note of the location of the person who left the review, are they posting from a country or region that doesn’t seem to geographically fit with the item under discussion? If so, it might be an indication that all is not what it might seem to be.
Have a large influx of positive reviews occurred over a short period of time?
If a certain product seems to have experienced a huge amount of 4 or 5-star reviews over an extremely short period of time, despite the fact the item isn't new to the market, then this may indicate a brand or seller is trying to use fake reviews as a way to hide previous low scores.
Do reviews on the product have a lot of spelling or grammatical errors?
Some brands may outsource the writing of falsified or faked reviews to people in developing countries, so if a product seems to have a lot of reviews with poor spelling, grammatical errors or seem to be unusually descriptive or nonsensical in parts, consider the fact they may have been posted by someone who doesn’t speak English as a first language.
Are you seeing a lot of similar phrases/words being repeated across different reviews of the same product?
If you are seeing phrases such as, “The best product”, “Great product”, “It saved my life” or, “The best on the market”, being posted more than seems normal on the reviews for a product, this could be a sign that review incentivisation is taking place.
These are the kinds of reviews that will be lacking in thorough description, and may even read as though the poster clearly hasn’t tested out or used the product themselves.
There may also be phrases that indicate a little too much of an overreaction to receiving certain products. Reading a review about a floor mop or a brand of washing detergent, where the poster describes the purchase as ‘incredible’, ‘a miracle’ or uses a lot of exclamation points and smiley faces, will naturally seem inauthentic to readers, and lead one to conclude the reviews are faked.
Are the majority of product reviews overwhelmingly positive?
It’s virtually impossible for absolutely everyone to have the same positive experience and love a product so much that they want to give it five stars, so if a product has an overwhelmingly large number of these kinds of reviews, this could suggest some foul play might be in hand.
Some brands and sellers, despite this being against Amazon’s guidelines, will actively seek out and communicate with genuine customers who left 1-3 star reviews on their products, and offer them bribes or incentives in order to boost their scores. So the brand’s average rating will rise. When it comes to this tip, just remember the saying, “If something seems too good to be true, then it probably is.”
Also, we at That's Christmas look out for large number of 1 star reviews on a product.
We'd like to thank https://www.wethrift.com for their help in putting this article together.
(Image courtesy of Adam448 from Pixabay)