Beauty buyers, beware. The front page of the internet just revealed the true face of beauty—and it’s not pretty. Yesterday, a former employee of skin care brand Sunday Riley went on Reddit to expose an email from the company that instructed him and his peers to open fake Sephora accounts and post positive product reviews. Could this scandal shake consumer trust in the beauty retailer, which scored a Genius ranking for its digital competence in Gartner L2’s Digital IQ Index: Specialty Retail?
Influencers might seem like the be-all and end-all when it comes to what people buy nowadays, but peer reviews play a pivotal role on the path to purchase as well. Websites and stores remain the top channels for product research, but reviews are next in line when it comes to trustworthy sources, according to Gartner L2’s intelligence report on content and commerce.
For customers who have joined the cult of Sunday Riley’s Good Genes product, the reaction is sure to be scathing. However, there is also the risk of backlash for Sephora, which has made customer reviews an integral part of the shopping experience, both on the brand site and in the app. These reviews are part of the retailer’s larger efforts to build trust with customers, which also include features like shopper-to-shopper live chat and user-generated-content. Now, shoppers might think twice before adding items to their carts on Sephora’s site.