Competition and Markets Authority releases report into the online reviews market

Today, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) issued its report into online reviews and endorsements following a call for information in February this year. Trustpilot, as a global market leader in the industry with over 10,000 new consumers joining every day, has been a key contributor. 

Highlighting the important role online reviews play in helping consumers to make more informed shopping decisions, key findings from the report include:

  • The intrinsic value of reviews – more than half of UK adults use online reviews and find         them valuable
  • The economic impact of reviews – around £23 billion a year of UK consumer spending is potentially influenced by online reviews
  • The informative role of reviews – most consumers interviewed found that the product or service purchased after reading reviews matched up to their expectations 

As part of its investigations, the CMA also identified a number of unlawful practises of concern by certain businesses, distorting and even misrepresenting the information presented to consumers. These include :

  • Businesses writing or commissioning fake positive reviews about themselves to boost ratings
  • Businesses or individuals writing or commissioning fake negative reviews in an attempt to undermine rivals or for malicious personal gain
  • Review sites ‘cherry-picking’ positive reviews, or suppressing negative reviews that they collect and/or display, without making it clear to readers that only a selection of reviews are being presented

Trustpilot, through ongoing significant investment, works hard to stay ahead of the game, identifying and mitigating unlawful practice through its 30 strong Quality and Compliance team and a compliance engine. 

Working with the industry to ensure transparency and credibility is carried across the sector, UK VP of Trustpilot, James Westlake, comments in response to the report: 

“Word of mouth has always been the most powerful way to make or break a brand and this is more important than ever before. With the growth of online reviews the chance to embrace this force has never been greater – Trustpilot alone receives over 500,000 reviews a month. From florists to high street banks, people are voicing their opinions every day and evolving the way companies react to and communicate with consumers.”

Like with any emerging technology, issues of security and privacy are never far away. We take fraudulent use of our reviews website very seriously and are committed to investing in maintaining transparency, rooting out and preventing misuse. We applaud the CMA report for properly identifying the importance and potential of this market and for working in partnership with organisations such as Trustpilot to set industry benchmarks for best practice - ensuring consumer reviews can be trusted and best honour the wisdom of the crowd.” 

The CMA’s recommendations to ensure compliance with Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations (CPRs) are as follows : 

  • Be clear about how reviews are collected and checked
  • Publish all reviews, even negative ones, provided they are genuine and lawful, explaining the circumstances in which reviews might not be published or edited
  • Publish reviews without an unreasonable delay
  • Disclose any commercial relationships with businesses that appear on reviews sites that might affect ratings and/or rankings
  • Clearly identify all advertising and paid promotions
  • Ensure appropriate procedures are in place to detect and remove fake reviews, acting promptly in response to reports

You can read the CMA’s report in full here.

If you have any questions about Trustpilot’s work to combat fraudulent reviews and maintain trust and transparency for both consumers and businesses please contact press@trustpilot.com