UK Shoppers Rely Heavily on Online Reviews Despite Prevalence of Fakes

  • Survey indicates 85% of British consumers trust reviews
  • One-third of online reviews are fraudulent, a trend expected to increase
  • April 2024 sees the enactment of the DMCC Act, outlawing fake reviews

A notable 85% of UK consumers rely on online reviews when choosing to buy from a company, according to a new study. However, this report also highlights a concerning trend: over one-third of these reviews are fake, a figure projected to grow next year.

This research, a blend of survey data and fake review statistics, was conducted by SEO agency It Works Media and fake review watchdog TruthEngine®. It Works Media warns of the detrimental impact on both businesses and consumers due to the reliance on fake reviews.

As per the 2022 Queen’s Speech, the Digital Markets, Competitors, and Consumers Act (DMCC Act) will be implemented in April 2024. While the UK government estimates 15% of online reviews as fraudulent, TruthEngine’s findings suggest a more widespread problem. Companies unable to verify the authenticity of a review could face fines up to 10% of their global turnover.

Indicators of a brand with fake reviews include repeated IP addresses, simultaneous posting times, and similar themes in multiple reviews. TruthEngine experts advise caution when encountering an unusually high number of reviews.

Additionally, nearly half (48%) of survey participants admitted they would avoid products or services with negative reviews. The misleading nature of fake reviews often leads to customer dissatisfaction and a cycle of negative feedback, harming the brand.

A mere 0.7% of respondents claim they never shop online, emphasizing the need for businesses to refine their digital marketing strategies.

Steve Pritchard, Director of It Works Media, comments:“As consumers value reviews from past customers, any amount of fake reviews means customers could have a negative reaction when their experience doesn’t match their expectations. Setting too high a standard will likely further exacerbate the issue, resulting in more bad reviews and an issue which will likely have a detrimental impact on sales.

“If you believe your company may be at risk of not complying with the new legislation in 2024, then we urge you to audit your current reviews immediately. Then, focus on providing a better customer experience and understand that every one of your competitors will be impacted in the same way, so get sorted early.”

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