Half of Adult Consumers Believe Some Online Reviews Are Fake

December 9, 2013

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Bazaarvoice-Consumer-Attitudes-to-Online-Reviews-Dec20137 in 10 adult consumers in the US and UK read consumer reviews before making purchase decisions, details Bazaarvoice in newly-released survey results. The company says reviews are consulted more than any other content – a result not too hard to believe given other research suggesting that 8 in 10 American consumers trust online customer reviews as much as personal recommendations. At the same time, Bazaarvoice finds a healthy level of skepticism about the validity of those reviews: roughly 1 in every 2 survey respondents believe one or more reviews they read online is fake. A majority also believes that companies remove negative reviews.

Consumers have good reason to believe that some of the reviews they read are fake – and perhaps more than half should be skeptical of them. A study released [pdf] earlier this year by MIT’s Sloan School of Management suggested that even loyal customers post negative product reviews. Yelp has acknowledged that somewhere in the realm of one-quarter of reviews submitted are fake, though it said that while touting its review filter.

The Bazaarvoice results aren’t the first to show consumer skepticism towards online reviews. In July, a Maritz Research paper [download page] indicated that one-quarter of respondents believe that information found on ratings sites is unfair. 6 in 10 tend to look at the actual comments rather than the numerical ratings – and only 53% of respondents who had read reviews at Yelp believed that most or all of the information was an accurate representation of customers’ experiences.

To combat fake reviews, Bazaarvoice introduced its “Authentic Reviews Trust Mark,” noting that more than 8 in 10 respondents would feel more trusting of reviews if they knew they were screened for fraud, while being moderated and displayed by a neutral, credible third party.

About the Data: The Bazaarvoice results are based on a survey of 3,000 adult consumers across the US and UK in November 2013.

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