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Post in Savvy Shoppers

Incentavized Reviews

Let me start right off the back, most reviews I write are incentavized reviews. Meaning I get sent products and in return I post an honest review. I only ever post reviews for sent items, it's just generally my rule. I am starting to see comments and reviews rather upset at incentavized reviews because they feel they are dishonest, which I totally get. As a reviewer I try my hardest to put the most honest unbiased review I can. What can I do as a reviewer on Sephora to help unharden the opinion of these reviews? #sephora #incentive #reviews

Re: Incentavized Reviews

Thank you for taking the time to test, review, write honest feedback and for asking this question. As a ROUGE as well for decades and someone who has always taken into an account what reviewers have to say to make an informed purchase, the issue I am experiencing is that there’s a disproportionate number of “free gift” reviews to “verified reviews.” Moreover, my girlfriends and I have been increasingly discussing this imbalance and how it’s impacting our shopping experiences/purchases over this year, and we are all super annoyed about it. Here’s why. Over the course of 20+ years shopping at Sephora all over world and online, prior to 2023 I returned only a few purchases and all were in unused condition except an eyeliner that irritated my contacts. Last summer I made a bunch of purchases for myself, for vacation, for my bff’s birthday based on STELLAR near 5-star reviews. I completely disliked a few purchases and didn’t have time to return/exchange/get a credit due to summer travel. It’s all brand new. $250 donated to my local domestic protection program for women. That wasn’t planned and I am in no way in a financial situation to do that again. So that was 3 bad purchases based on reviews. Then at Christmas, I exchanged 5-6 gifts again purchased based on FABULOUS reviews. Last month I returned an unopened purchase based on reviews after buying a small size to test. Horrible product for me. This week I purchased 4 more products based on almost PERFECT reviews — again, 90% or more “freebies” — and none of them are as the reviewers described. In fact, one was a summer fragrance that immediately gave me a wicked migraine with 2 sprays. All my life nothing like this has ever happened. I was seriously sick last night! So when I finally started feeling better in the middle of the night I went through all the reviews that were non-incentives and read the verified reviews and the regular feedback. The feedback was ATROCIOUS!!! Like, unbelievably awful. The fragrance was compared to big spray, household cleaner, disinfectant, and even those tablet’s people stick inside their toilets. So many angry, honest reviews and very few of the gifted fragrance reviewers seemed to give an honest review. I’m an ethicist. This is unethical business practice. Why? Well, I’ll explain. I recently signed up for a couple of programs that are essentially third party marketing companies and what I’ve found is that there’s absolutely no oversight whatsoever over the ethical integrity of the reviews. In fact, the more 5 stars I give (only to products I’ve used and loved for years!), the higher up I’m ranked in the system. What this means is that anyone can post 5 star reviews and be rewarded with free gifts and merchandise. Does that seem like an ethical sales and marketing business practice? Just by asking this question as you have, I do trust your sincerity and integrity. You seem like an ethical, honest, and thoughtful person. What percentage of reviewers are like you? And how do we know? These companies including Sephora are using marketing dollars to bias reviewers. That’s so wrong. So, I’m taking back everything I bought and I will exchange it for one final purchase. Then, I’m deleting my account and my app and I’m only making purchases directly from companies I trust who post reviews that are real and authentic. Had I made this fragrance purchase directly from the company, I would easily see that MANY people have experienced an adverse reaction to this fragrance and I never would have bought it for myself as a blind buy. Live and learn. But, ya, spending all this money and buying things blindly based on copious amounts of 4-5 star reviews and 0-25 or so verifiable reviews sandwiched in the hundreds or more is why we are no longer spending our money at Sephora - or, at least until an ethical system is created by Sephora and by third-party marketing companies giving free stuff in exchange for AMAZING reviews. If I got this $300 perfume or $200 serum for free, trust me, I would be unconsciously biased. It’s a scientific and psychological fact. Sephora is unethical and so are these business practices. This is the new norm in unethical sales, marketing and advertising used by countless companies and brands. It’s the “influencer generation”. We are all immune to it; but, we can choose what roles and responsibilities we will embrace to try to make this far less shady and self-serving and unethical than it is. 

Thank you for your thoughtful question and your time + consider! All the best, Steph 

Re: Incentavized Reviews

How did you get to do those kinds of reviews? I’m dying to. But also, I don’t always read them because they could be biased.

Re: Incentavized Reviews

@EnieBeans @People get free products from Influenster. 

Re: Incentavized Reviews

@Lau17 I do appreciate those who review products with swatches, how effective it is in its performance, like example for a foundation show a before (right after you finish your makeup) and an after (after your day show how it held up) and also pros and even cons🩷honestly I never filter out the incentivized reviews I appreciate any thought on a product and also people who include all the details (a long review) are usually the ones I read it honestly in my mind I think: this person actually thought about the products and tested it and and is showing how it worked🩷🩷🩷🩷

Re: Incentavized Reviews

@Lau17, Details matter.  A great honest review includes details such as whether or not you'd purchase the item or how long you've tried it. For example, if you were reviewing a product with retinol in it and you've tried it for a month, I'd be more inclined to believe you versus if you say "I received this from _____, I tried it last night and it made my skin soooo glowy after one night"  Also recognize it's difficult to be completely unbiased when receiving something you didn't pay for, hence including as many specifics as you can in your incentivized review.  If it's a complexion or makeup product, include a real swatch or photo of you so others can see a non-company swatch. 

Re: Incentavized Reviews

So as a reviewer, I am to use 3-4 weeks, because they usually only give us a month deadline. I guess I can be more vocal about how long I used it it too. Sometimes I feel a review can be too long, and I know I won't read too much into those. I understand the concern in truly being unbiased and can totally understand it, as well... In my ratings for example in the last month of items I was sent, 75% were 2-3 ratings. Just want to help as much as I can, because when I buy an item, I am heavy in research and reviews. 

Re: Incentavized Reviews

@Lau17 , I only read “non-incentivized “ reviews. Before reading any reviews on Sephora I filter out the Incentivized reviews to get a more honest opinion.

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