Amazon & "Vine Customer Review of Free Product"

Started Sep 12, 2019 | Discussions thread
Mackiesback Veteran Member • Posts: 9,434
Re: Amazon & "Vine Customer Review of Free Product"

John Koch wrote:

There is nothing new about manufacturers lending or gifting products to people who then post 5-star reviews. Typically, such "reviews" offer nothing more than a gushing superlative for "subject" and a semi-coherent string of words of praise. There are two or more websites (fakespot, reviewmeta) where one can score the reliability of a product's reviews. Conversely, there are some one-star reviews posted by people who may not have purchased or used a product, but merely express their disdain.

Lately, however, Amazon has instituted a "vine" network of "trusted reviewers " who, in exchange for a free product, agree to write an Amazon review. The reviewers are supposed to have a record of prior reviews that get favorable "helpful" scores. While I doubt any of the "vine" reviewers are deliberate fibbers, a bias factor surely enters the equation. No manufacturer is likely to send additional free products to a reviewer who rates a product at fewer than three stars. No recipient of a free product is likely to be ungrateful--or obtuse.

For instance, I was looking for customer reviews of a recently released Canon product, the Vixia HF G60 . For some reason, the only YT reviews I can find for that device seem to emanate from East Europe or Asia, using languages I do not understand.

Oddly, the only Amazon reviews posted for this product are all written by vine members who received free units. All are five-star. The review titles: beyond imagination, excellent, exceptional, professional, etc.

The single four-star review pertains to an earlier product (the HF G50).

Despite consisting of more content than typical "robo reviews," the vine reviews still earn a score of "F" from Fakespot.

It is not stated whether vine reviewers are precluded from selling what they receive, or whether they are obliged to return "loaners" after a given time span.

My four cents:

  1. The vine reviews are, at least, disclosed as such. But maybe they should not be the basis for a product score.
  2. A product whose reviews include lots of incentivized reviewers is probably not selling very well and may be over-priced.
  3. Amazon should devise its own algorithm to purge or discount dubious reviews. An obvious trademark is anyone who posts dozens of one-line reviews in a single day.
  4. It might also be good to make authentic buyers wait a few weeks before posting a review. Too many appear written to congratulate themselves for spending money on a product they have not yet really used much. Confirmation bias can be just as skewed as free gift bias.

I admit that I would find it hard to pan anything I got for free, from a company that might send me more nice stuff, nor would I be quick to pan myself for spending a lot on a device that vests all my dreams and later falls short.

Simply reading the review pretty much addresses most of your questions.

Actually, Goodreads in the publishing business has been doing this for years. It is easy to spot the Goodreads reviews, often the reviewers include full disclosure, which on the surface, would discount the value of the review in most people's eyes.

But it doesn't to the publishers. They use Goodreads because Amazon includes in their search results algorithm a ranking based on reviews. Publishers use these reviews just to get their books to display, more than any perceived value in product opinion. If your product is not reviewed, it is invisible.  That's why people do this.

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