We have talked about the “Gray World of Online Reviews” here at Teach the 4 Ps several times in the past few years–and of course in Essentials of Marketing. I am still shocked at the different unethical techniques used to continue this misleading practice. I am also surprised that Amazon and others that rely on their reviews to (in part) drive traffic have not figured out how to better police such behavior. With all that in mind, here is one more example, “Her Amazon Purchases Are Real. The Reviews Are Fake,” Buzz Feed News, November 20, 2019.
From a personal standpoint, I used to just assume that a product with a few dozen reviews and a 4.5 star (or higher) average was worth buying. I still trust reviews, but I am much more likely to check out a few of the one-start and two-star reviews to see if they are the few honest ones. I also believe that fake reviews are eventually sorted out. If those five-start reviews attract buyers — they will also attract frustrated critics who shower the product with one-star reviews.