Let’s face it, the internet has become a resource for consumers to purchase the next big ticket item and it doesn’t stop with just visiting the product website. With the advent of review websites, many consumers use a simple internet search to see how a product ranks against the competition and performs. With such transparency, there has been a new trend of businesses posing as review websites to sway consumer research about their product and the competition. The majority of these websites say they are a legitimate product review website and purposely write about the competitor’s product in a negative light, while revering the features and benefits on their own product. Reviews can include a rating system for quick glance of “who’s on top”. The age old adage of “Buyer Beware” should be the mantra of any consumer seeking advice from an unknown source.
While some consumers are savvy to avoid the review trap, others believe what they read on a review websites and will purchase a product based off false, exaggerated or inflated information. While the sole purpose of these websites are to generate more sales—it has become a breeding ground for unfounded accusations and bad-mouthing the competition.
How can you tell that you are reading a review site based off actual people? The larger review-based websites like Angie’s List, Consumer Affairs and Yelp.com (just to name a few) are typically monitored and the most trustworthy; however, a few competitors find a way to trash competition on these websites as well. The biggest culprits for bad-mouthing competition are the specialty review websites for a specific product category. While this seems like a harmless ploy to gain brand loyalty; it is a dishonorable approach to business and can really hurt the industry as a whole. For example, the walk in tub industry is bombarded by these “review” websites and most of these are constructed by competitors that have never even seen or touched the product.
When a product or company does not have a solid voice or brand recognition, business owners find a way to create that voice. Ella’s Bubbles is a manufacturer of acrylic walk in baths and is not immune to bad reviews from the competition. They believe that healthy competition should be based off proven product performance, quality of product, product features, and customer service.
“It’s very disturbing that our industry cannot play nicely” says Michelle Shugars, Marketing Manager for Ella’s Bubbles. “Our company feels that we are in the business to help people and, of course, we would want that person to purchase one of our walk in bathtubs. But if a competitor’s product is a better option, we are happy for that individual. Tearing down our competition comes from providing the best service and offering the best solution. We don’t need to create a website to negatively portray our competition.”
Consumers that are in the market for a walk in bathtub should check out plenty of review websites and the content authors. By exposing a handful of these websites, the consumer has a better chance to make an informed decision based of factual information rather information “reviewed” by the competition. When in doubt, visit the company website and call them with direct questions.