Got an amazing report out right now with Trustpilot via London Research. Very gratifying to see this one take shape from the early days of figuring out questions, to getting responses and then seeing how they related to what the health and beauty marketing was seeing.

The result? Did you know that UK consumers are wasting more than £14m per week on counterfeit or substandard health and beauty products? In America, it’s $137m per week. Drilling deeper, our research found the big culprit is fake reviews.

It’s widely known that a lot of businesses engage in fake reviews, so you can only imagine how many counterfeiters are in on the act. It’s big business. You can pay a company to leave a bunch of great comments for your product and then leave bad remarks on rivals. They make up accounts, leave glowing reviews before slating the opposition.

You can normally spot reviews which have odd randomly generated user names and are overly gushing about a particular product. A real give away is repeating boasts which the brand or retailer uses in sales copy as well as the reviewer getting very specific on model names.

Lockdown boom time for fakers

The problem has been exacerbated by lockdown from the end of March into June. Anyone who was getting low on face cream at the start of lockdown will know that when you cannot get to Boots or Debenhams, it’s tempting to try new retailers online.

That’s where the problems can start and that’s why this new report highlights the importance of relying on advice from a beautician or sales assistant. When they aren’t available, because you’re buying online, it’s always a good idea to make sure the retailer and the goods you are signed up to a reputable reviewing system.

It’s even more important online because if you were to buy perfume off a guy on a street corner, you’d know it looked a little dodgy and a bench isn’t exactly the shop front that screams official merchandise. Plus, you can check out the packaging in the real world.

Without being able to make physical checks, it’s essential to trust ratings. This is, of course, why Trustpilot commissioned the white paper but, hand on heart, I didn’t realise how big an issue this was until I started the research on this one.

The white paper has some great comments from Pai Skincare, where employees are banned from leaving reviews. There’s also Balance Me talking about people getting hold of stock on the grey market where nobody knows if it has been properly shipped and stored.

And here’s a little tit bit that didn’t make the final version. I spoke to a lovely beauty influencer off the television who privately admitted she’d very nearly bought a fake product recently. It was only as she was typing in credit card details she suddenly stopped herself.

Even those who are experts in the field can get caught out. That means understanding and spotting fake reviews is more important than ever.

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