Fake online reviews are a problem for marketers and brand managers.
Consumers traditionally looked at price and brand history for signals about product quality. They could assume that a more expensive appliance contained more craftsmanship—or a household brand name could be trusted to deliver a safe product.
However, new data suggest that online reviews can wipe out other consumer signals—and reviews can be faked.
Reviews don’t have to come from a platitude-spewing bot to be disingenuous. More commonly, reviews are tainted by dishonest marketing practices.
“I got a free dress out of the process, they got a review,” said Alex Tran. A yoga and fitness blogger, Tran found herself browsing private Facebook groups dedicated to hooking up sellers with review writers. She quickly received a private message from someone offering to reimburse her in full for purchasing a maxi dress and reviewing it on Amazon.