Large majorities of consumers rely on product reviews to help make online purchase decisions. But what percentage of those reviews are reliable and authentic? According to recent survey data, 33 percent of consumers believe they saw “a lot” of fake local business reviews in 2018.
Paid or fake reviews rampant on Amazon. According to an analysis by the Washington Post, a majority of reviews in certain Amazon product categories are fraudulent or paid. That is supported by a more recent analysis from Fakespot, which analyzes and grades review content on Amazon.
According to the company, the top 10 product categories with the highest percentage of falsified reviews on Amazon are:
- Wireless headphones/earbuds
- Phone cases and screen protectors
- Smart watches
- Phone charging cables
- Third party apple accessories/any other known brand (Fitbit, Gopro, Garmin)
- Anti-aging creams
- Hair-loss products
Clothing: popular sneakers from Adidas or Nike
Supplements and Vitamins: Any supplements or vitamins claiming wondrous medical benefits in the reviews
As one example, Fakespot says that only 32 percent of reviews on Amazon for its Ring Stick Up Cam are “reliable.”
Fake reviews outnumber real ones. Fakespot reports that inauthentic reviews actually dominate the product categories above. In other words, there is a greater percentage of fake reviews than legitimate ones:
- Electronics: 61 percent
- Beauty: 63 percent
- Sneakers: 59 percent
- Supplements: 64 percent
Amazon has taken steps various times in the past to crack down on fake or incentivized reviews. But this has obviously not solved the problem. The problem is particularly acute with Chinese sellers and manufacturers on Amazon.
We reached out to Amazon for comment and are awaiting a response. The company previously issued a statement to the Washington Post on the subject of review integrity on its site: “We know that millions of customers make informed buying decisions everyday using Customer Reviews. We take this responsibility very seriously and defend the integrity of reviews by taking aggressive action to protect customers from dishonest parties who are abusing the reviews system…”
Why you should care. Honest sellers lose. Amazon’s huge volume of product reviews have helped the site become the go-to destination for product search. The problem and pervasiveness of fake reviews on Amazon is not well or widely understood by consumers but it is by many Amazon merchants, who complain about the issue on Amazon seller forums.
Given how much is at stake with reviews, which influence rankings and purchasing behavior, there are significant incentives to try and cheat. It then becomes much more challenging for those following the rules (especially smaller sellers) to compete.