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Some fascinating research in this week’s newsletter suggesting customers could be more than twice as likely to choose poor-quality products when shopping online if they have been boosted by fake reviews.

The ‘ground-breaking behavioural experiment’ from consumer champion Which? simulated fake reviews and endorsement labels and found they were hugely effective at manipulating consumers into picking Don’t Buy products – items that Which?’s independent lab tests have found to be of such poor quality that they should be avoided at all costs – instead of better quality alternatives.

Which? found that every single one of the fake review scenarios it tested had adverse effects on consumer behaviour and, in the worst instance, demand for products boosted by these techniques increased by a staggering 136 per cent.

This overwhelming evidence of the damaging impact of fake reviews on consumers reinforces the need for the Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA) recently announced investigation into misleading online reviews and why the regulator must take the strongest possible action against sites that fail to tackle this problem.

Caroline Normand, Which? Director of Advocacy, said: “Which? has found categorical evidence that people are at huge risk of being misled by fake reviews, which is particularly worrying given people are shopping online more than ever during the coronavirus pandemic. Online platforms must put more effective measures in place to stop unscrupulous sellers gaming the system with ease, otherwise the CMA needs to take strong action against these major sites.”

I 100 per cent agree with Caroline and look forward to the issues here being discussed at our flagship 2020 Customer Engagement Summit later this year. Look forward to welcoming you there.

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