Fake reviews and misleading content continue to frustrate retail customers who believe brands in the sector need to outline new standards to combat the problem.
A new study by Bazaarvoice Inc has found that compelling, informative content is a big win for brands in retail but that the opposite can turn off customers entirely as the demand for up to date, relevant and trustworthy information trumps all else in the buyer’s journey.
10,000 consumers in several countries including the US and UK were polled for their opinions on the reviews and other forms of content that often feature on product pages.
Authenticity is very important at this point as customers look to consume content at this stage to inform their decision making. The right content helps to build trust but fake reviews can lead to negative experiences and a lingering sense of disappointment.
The problem with fake reviews has escalated to a point where 72% of respondents want new standards to improve the situation.
Of the measures that could help, 43% want only customers that have made a verified purchase being able to submit a review. A third of those quizzed also said every product should be tried and tested by customers before they go on sale.
A further 34% believe the onus is on the brand to run the rule over customer content each day to ensure it meets the highest standards and to weed out reviews that are fake.
The consequences for brands that do not uphold high standards can be dire as 43% would lose all trust and 78% of these consumers said they would not even consider purchasing a product or service from the brand again.
Bazaarvoice chief revenue officer, Joe Rohrlich said customers are often suspicious when there are a number of the same reviews with similar wording and a very high percentage of extremely positive reviews.
He added: “It is paramount that brands are reviewing customer content through technology-based and human moderation to account for the subtleties in one of the most challenging aspects of ecommerce.”
Customers prefer to see a mix of positive and negative reviews. More than two-thirds said less flattering takes on products are as important as those that gush about features as weighing the pros against the cons helps to improve decisions.
Highlighting negative reviews also means consumers are less likely to believe the content is fake or fraudulent.
The quality of content elsewhere on web pages is also important for customers. More than half said they don’t like to see dishonest brand or product info, which again highlights the need for relevant and trustworthy web copy.
Other turn offs for customers include lacklustre quality products (61%) and customer service issues (49%). All of these can break trust and make it difficult to regain it so brands should be proactive and vigilant when creating and supporting customer experiences.
Rohrlich concludes: “Alongside the right tools and expertise, brands should pursue new insights from customer content that can help enhance product design and production quality.”