Fake reviews rise while consumer trust begins to drop

With the holiday season nearing, Amazon is reminding everyone why it is one of the largest online retailers worldwide with new product reviews flooding in everyday. 

Many users look at reviews before they decide whether or not to purchase an item online since they themselves may have never used it before. So since customers rely so heavily on reviews while online shopping, they deserve the truth about the product instead of paid lies.

The Washington Post claims, “of the 47,846 total reviews for the first 10 products listed in an Amazon search for “bluetooth speakers,”’ two-thirds were problematic, based on calculations using the ReviewMeta tool.” 

Consumers are putting their trust and their wallets in the hands of other apparent consumers. The whole reason people even look at reviews is because they want to make sure they are investing in a good product. When paid reviewers leave fake product reviews it breaks the trust of not only other reviews but also that particular company, whether it be for trolling purposes or to promote a certain consensus about a product. 

Companies like Amazon have been cracking down on suspicious reviews and banning people from its site that have broken reviewing protocol; i.e. confrming buyers via check marks next to their names. 

But according to ABC 7 News, fake reviews have not stopped some sellers from recruiting reviewers on social media sites, reporting that in February there were “nearly 100 Facebook groups, one with 50,000 members, for the purpose of sourcing positive reviews for certain products.”

Many have accused influencers of being a new but just as impactful addition to this problem. Many YouTubers and Instagrammers are paid to mention a product or use it  for their followers to see. 

The problem with this is most of the time, influencers will only “love” the products offered to them, because they are free and would like to prolong financial relationships with the companies that contact them, basically meaning influencers are in the hands of any brand that wants to compensate them, even if it costs them their credibility. 

Many of the followers of these influencers trust their word and end up wasting their money on subpar products that leave them feeling robbed. Of course the influencers did not force their followers to purchase the item but that is not the point. They promote the product in a positive light whether or not they truly like it. They are, in essence, scam artists ripping off their following. 

Sugar Bear Hair is a prime example of this scam. The Kardashians have promoted several bogus products but Sugar Bear Hair is by far the most popular. Sugar Bear Hair is a blue gummy hair vitamin meant to help hair growth. There have been studies on whether or not it actually works or if it is even necessary. 

Nutritionist Lyndi Cohen, meanwhile, did not have anything positive to say about these famous gummies. Cohen said, “I think we’re quite obsessed with getting healthy and the idea that you could thicken your locks and get really perfect, shiny hair just by adding in a multivitamin is too good to be true.” 

Not everyone feels bad for misleading customers who are trying to gain knowledge on a new product, but online retailers need to be as aware as shoppers this time of year to make sure they know exactly what it is they are buying. Considering the social and cultural power influencers have acquired lately, their responsiblity is tangled in here as well. 

A great rule of thumb for anyone promoting a product is if you are not willing to use your own money to purchase what you are selling, then don’t expect your followers to do any different.