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Shoppers Demand New Standards to Combat Fake Reviews as Importance of Brand Trust Grows

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Almost three quarters (73%) of consumers indicate the retail industry needs a new set of standards with severe punishment for violations to combat fake reviews

Bazaarvoice, Inc., the leading provider of product reviews and user-generated content (UGC) solutions, announced the results of its newest study, exploring the role of brand trust in consumer purchasing behavior and how brands can damage that trust. The research is based on survey responses from more than 10,000 consumers from the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, and Australia. The results provide a closer look at how brand trust is built and broken, including the role of product ratings and reviews and how shoppers evaluate their authenticity.

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Key U.S. findings from Bazaarvoice’s new study include:

Brand trust is paramount for customer loyalty

After losing trust in a brand, 85% of consumers reported they will avoid using the brand again. The most common way respondents indicated a brand could lose their trust was by products being poor quality/damaging easily (66%), followed by receiving dishonest brand/product information (55%), while 43% pointed to a brand having fake and fraudulent reviews. But, if a customer still trusts a brand, 57% said they would still buy from that brand again after one negative product experience. Once established, trust encourages consumers to be forgiving as well as loyal, and is an invaluable asset for brands to have.

The authenticity of a brand’s reviews affects its bottom line 

If a shopper suspects a product to have fake reviews, 31% said they would not buy the product, 28% would not trust other reviews, and 26% would not trust the brand. What makes shoppers most suspicious that a product may have fake reviews is seeing multiple reviews with similar wording (59%), the review content not matching the product (50%), and an overwhelming number of five-star ratings/positive reviews (35%). It is paramount for brands to implement both textual moderation and data driven anti-fraud processes to ensure review authenticity and relevancy, keeping the trust, and the patronage, of the consumer.

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Consumers want new standards to combat fake reviews and harsher punishments for noncompliance

The majority (73%) of respondents believe the retail industry needs new standards to combat fake reviews. They think these new rules should require that only customers who made verified purchases should be able to post reviews (42%), all products be tried and tested among legitimate consumers before launch (34%), and daily monitoring of customer content be done to weed out fake reviews (27%). On average, they believe that an appropriate level of punishment for brands in breach of these standards is a fine of 14.7% of their annual revenue. As a point of reference, survey respondents were told that in data privacy, the penalty for breaking the terms of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) can be up to 4% of revenue. Respondents still felt stronger penalizations were needed for brands violating consumer trust with fake reviews.

“Fake reviews can be devastating to a brand. Simply put, once shoppers suspect a company of having fake reviews, trust is in question. In an era of misinformation and fake news, brand integrity is essential to building consumer trust, which directly translates to profit,” said Joe Rohrlich, CRO at Bazaarvoice. “Brands and retailers need to embrace authenticity and transparency and continuously work to combat fake reviews. Shoppers are hardwired to seek word-of-mouth, and we need to ensure they can confidently turn to ratings and reviews as trusted sources.”

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