The CMA launched a call for information on how information in online reviews and endorsements is used.
The British Hospitality Association is calling all BHA members to share their views by completing a short survey HERE.
Online reviews and blogs are playing a growing role in helping consumers to make shopping decisions, including finding hotels, selecting tradespeople and choosing cosmetics. Research suggests that large numbers of consumers are using such online resources. They are also important to those businesses whose products and services are reviewed on them.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is committed to looking at evolving online markets. It is aware of a number of potential concerns about the trustworthiness or impartiality of information in some reviews and endorsements that is being provided to consumers. The CMA is therefore keen to look at whether these concerns are valid, as it is important that these sites work as well as they can for consumers and for businesses.
The CMA will be looking at a range of online reviews and endorsements. These are found on web blogs, video blogs, social media, specialist review sites, trusted trader sites, retail platforms and retailers’ own websites. The CMA will also look at the roles that media companies, online reputation managers and search engine optimisers play in helping businesses to promote themselves and manage their image in relation to blogs and review sites.
Nisha Arora, CMA Senior Director, Consumer, said: "The information contained in online reviews and endorsements can be a powerful force in the hands of consumers. Informed consumers make better decisions, driving competition on price and quality. Businesses have always known that ‘word of mouth’ is one of the most important factors for potential customers; what online reviews and blogs do is to provide a greatly amplified version of this. However, for this sector to work well it is important that this information is genuine, relevant and trustworthy.
"One of our priorities as a new authority is to take a closer look at developments and practices in evolving online markets. We are calling on consumers, businesses, review sites, bloggers and others who play important roles in this sector to help us understand how well it is working before we consider whether further action is needed."
More detail is available on the call for information page, including information on how to respond and contact details for those who want to submit specific information or research.
The deadline for responses to the call for information is 25 March 2015.