Media reported today that the Dutch Government is going to protect consumers against fake reviews. In fact, this is old news as the measures taken by the government were announced in October 2020 and are part of a much bigger initiative to update the old regulations around conumser protection. The Dutch Government follows the European Union that comes with a directive enforced in May 2022 in which many measures are taken to protect consumers when they shop online.

Here are our thoughts on this new directive…

Reviews are critical for consumers when buying online

Studies show that almost every single consumer (a whopping 99.9%) reads reviews, and nearly as many of them (98%) consider them a basic necessity. They, in fact, trust reviews so much that over 86% of them wouldn’t even buy a product without reading the review section first. But to support our own claims, never take something on the internet at face value. We decided to put things to the test.

In a study we did with the biggest retailer in the Netherlands, we found that reviews lifted the conversion rate by 176% on as much as 11 different products from very different categories. This isn’t the only surprising fact that our research uncovered. We also saw that ratings and reviews (94%) now hold a higher level of importance than price (91%) when factoring in on the buying decision. Check out our comprehensive ranking of all factors below.

Top factors impacting purchase decisions

    • Ratings & Reviews: 94%
    • Price of the product: 91%
    • Free shipping: 78%
    • Brand of the product: 65%
    • Recommendation from friends/family: 60%
    • Imagery provided by people who have previously purchased the product: 52%
    • Imagery provided by the brand or retailer: 46%

Ban on fake reviews

As reviews are so important for consumer trust in the market and the responsibility of online platforms to protect that trust, the European Union decided to enforce a new directive to better protect the European consumer. Starting May 2022, this directive will have an impact on how online platforms and traders deal with online reviews. From that date onwards, when online platforms and traders provide access to consumer reviews of products or services, they should inform consumers whether processes or procedures are in place to ensure that the published reviews originate from consumers who have actuallyused or purchased the products or services.

One way to do that is to include technical means to verify the reliability of the person posting a review, for example by requesting information to verify that the consumer has actually used or purchased the product. Online platforms should also provide information on how the checks are made and provide clear information to consumers on how reviews are processed, for example, if all reviews, either positive or negative, are posted or whether those reviews have been sponsored or influenced by a contractual relationship with a trader.

On top of that, the directive makes clear that online traders should also be prohibited from submitting fake consumer reviews and endorsements, such as ‘likes’ on social media, or commissioning others to do so in order to promote their products. Finally, online traders and platforms are not allowed to manipulate consumer reviews and endorsements, such as publishing only positive reviews and deleting the negative ones.

We support this new directive

From day 1, our principle was to only deliver authentic, real reviews. The good, the bad, and the ugly ones. This principle has cost us Clients but it allows us to always, without exception, claim that we only want to deliver the real story, captured in our vision that honest feedback makes us stronger.

That’s why we are all in with the new directive. We cheer for it, embrace it, love it.