Businesses hurt by fake online reviews
Consumers often turn to the Internet to research a product before buying. Fake reviews are always a concern, and the problem may be bigger than previously thought.
There have long been reports and rumors of businesses posting negative reviews of their competitors' products or companies that pay or reward users to write glowing reviews, a practice known as cyber-shilling.
But research shows that loyal customers are writing extremely negative reviews about products they never purchased.
Marketing professors Duncan Simester of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Eric Anderson of Northwestern University did a study based on reviews posted on the website of a major private-label apparel company.
The duo found that about 5 percent of the reviews were written by customers with no record of actually buying the item. Those reviews were “significantly more negative” than the others.
Those bogus reviews have consequences, Simester said. Low ratings result in significantly less demand for an item for at least 12 months.
“We have some evidence that these negative reviews do drive purchasing decisions and can reduce sales,” he said.
Simester and Anderson said they were also able to replicate the effect using book reviews on Amazon.com.
All told, very few customers write reviews. For the private-label apparel brand, less than 2 percent of the company's customers wrote reviews. People who write reviews generally buy more items, are more likely to buy at a discount, are more likely to return items, and are more likely to buy new or niche items.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pittsburgh area unemployment ticks up
- Consol Energy profits dip with low gas prices
- Hog Father’s eatery chain ferries barbecue to workers at gas well pads
- Oil’s rebound pushes up price at gas pumps
- Mylan rejects Teva’s $40 billion takeover bid
- ESPN sues Verizon over unbundling plan for FiOS
- Aerospace boom a boon for ATI, but more cost-cutting efforts planned
- Mixed economy likely means no Fed rate hike soon
- Starbucks glitch that closed stores shows reliance on registers
- Energy Spotlight: Ryan T. Purpura
- Experts: If health insurers’ safeguard goes broke, consumers could pay