Following a recent revelation by the BBC highlighting the purchase of fake Google reviews by numerous medical clinics to enhance their digital footprint, Feefo undertook a study of 2,000 UK consumers and 500 small-business owners to assess the magnitude and implications of this issue in the UK.

Key findings from Feefo’s research include:

  • 97% of UK consumers consult online reviews before making a purchase, but only a mere 8% feel confident in distinguishing genuine reviews from fake ones.
  • Roughly 50% of consumers have reported making misguided purchases due to misleading online reviews. Of this group, 24% received defective products, and 20% acquired items that were potentially hazardous.
  • Fake reviews have adversely impacted 40% of businesses, with 21% being affected more than once.
  • In terms of industry-specific targets, manufacturing companies lead the list at 70%, followed by financial services at 62%, architecture, engineering, and construction at 59%, legal sectors at 56%, and retail and leisure at 51%.
  • Trust levels in reviews on open platforms like Trustpilot and Google Reviews are waning, with 36% of UK residents expressing skepticism. This distrust climbs to 49% among ‘Gen Z’ consumers (aged 16-24).
  • Officially reviewed and verified reviews would positively sway purchasing decisions for two-thirds of respondents. Yet, 41% couldn’t define a ‘verified review’, and this misunderstanding increased to 63% among individuals aged 55 and above.

In light of these findings, Kim Burgess, Chief Customer Officer at Feefo, offers guidance for business owners on identifying deceptive reviews. According to Burgess, signs such as discrepancies between the review and the product, excessive industry jargon, consistent reviewer patterns, and poor writing can flag a fake review. Furthermore, she noted that many consumers (52%) become doubtful when a product lacks any negative feedback. She emphasized that items with ratings between 4 to 4.9 stars tend to have higher conversion rates than those only receiving perfect 5-star ratings by a significant 173%.

Kim Burgess also provided advice on preventive measures. She emphasized that while businesses may not have authority over reviews on open platforms, opting for verified review providers like Feefo ensures feedback legitimacy. Such a move not only empowers businesses with genuine insights but also grants over 60% of consumers the confidence they seek in their purchasing decisions, knowing the reviews have been authenticated.

For a comprehensive guide, readers can refer to Feefo’s detailed resource available here.

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