Consumers want greater trust in online reviews, Feefo research finds

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The overwhelming majority of UK consumers demand that online reviews become more trustworthy. Almost nine-in-ten consumers (89%) are worried that fake online reviews are distorting what people buy, research by global reviews and customer insights company Feefo has found. The figure is a 14% increase on the 75% who expressed the same concern in Feefo’s research last year.

Exploring the attitudes of 2,000 UK consumers towards online reviews, this year’s Feefo survey found that fewer than two-in-ten (17%) believe that reviews are policed appropriately. Disappointingly, more than one-in-four consumers (27%) have been misled by a review into making a purchase they regretted (or know someone who has ), emphasising the necessity for industry-wide adherence to the newly launched ISO standard which sets out best practice for online reviews: ISO 20488:2018.

“Consumers are reading reviews like never before, but increasingly demand they are credible and posted by real customers,” said Matt West, Chief Revenue Officer, Feefo. “Our research demonstrates that real reviews clinch sales and are far more valuable to businesses – providing a wealth of smart insights into how consumers rate their products and services.

“The advent of a new ISO standard for reviews is a great opportunity for positive change. Brands have so much to gain from publishing real reviews on an agile platform that boosts their reputation for transparency and trustworthiness.”

The research found  that almost six-in-ten (59%) are more likely to buy from an organisation that only publishes real reviews on a trusted online platform, confirming the importance of genuine customer feedback. It also revealed that brands that have their customer reviews verified by an independent company, are trusted more – by 43% of consumers surveyed.

In the research findings, most respondents said it takes between six and 25 reviews for them to trust a company’s review system, with men more likely to be influenced by a platform providing evidence that the reviews are from real customers. Middle-aged and older shoppers are more likely to be influenced by sentiments expressed in reviews, which they can filter using smart technology, whereas younger consumers respond more readily to visual cues such as product images.

“BSI ISO 20488:2018 has been developed via a multi-stakeholder process in response to market needs, said David Fatscher, head of market development, sustainability and services, BSI. Organisations operating to the standard can boost consumer confidence by providing valuable guidance to review administrators who are committed to achieving excellence, protecting suppliers from inaccurate or fraudulent reviews, and helping consumers make informed choices”.