From vanity sizing to product placement - covert marketing is all around us.
But are some brands now turning to social media as a way of easily swaying and exploiting there own customers?
One brand in particular that has caught my attention is No7 at Boots. I own a lot of No7 product and genuinely like the brand - there products are always of good quality and there advertising is always spot on. Which is why I was quite surprised and let down by there recent choice of marketing.
Let me explain...
I first noticed something abit on the odd side when I visited the Boots website to check the price of the new Exquisite Curl Mascara. Even though the mascara had only been released that very day there were already over 15 five star reviews about the product. I quickly read through the glowing customer reviews and most implied/mentioned that they had been sent the mascara and had been testing it for 3-4 days.
My first thought was that a select number of beauty bloggers had been sent the new mascara and had been kindly asked if they could write a review on the Boots.com website. I personally think even that is abit underhand seeing as it's clearly states that the reviews are 'customer reviews' but something I could maybe see happening.
I then totally forgot about the reviews, until I noticed that No7 were recruiting 30 panellists to try out their new tinted moisturiser on their Facebook page.
Now writing about your experience on the No7 Facebook page is one thing, but asking the supposed 'panellists' to write a review on the official website which is meant for customer reviews is a different story all together. A story that definitely explains the now 17 five star reviews for the exquisite curl mascara.
I am by no means suggesting that No7 or the PR company involved even hinted at giving good reviews but surely these panelists will think they stand a better chance of reviewing more No7 products if they review there 1st product quite highly or any product for that matter. Which is clearly true from the amazing reviews of the mascara. With one 'customer' stating that out of her 50 mascaras the No7 Exquisite Curl Mascara was the best she had ever tried.
I was actually sent the exact mascara by the No7 PR team and I should state I wasn't directly asked to write a review on my blog in exchange for the product nor was I asked to write a customer review on Boots.com. Which is pretty much the norm for PR companies as they understand that if you like the product you will give it a review of some kind in the future - something that is totally fair.
The mascara itself was good but not the best one that No7 do and I truly felt for that reason I couldn't write a full post dedicated to the mascara, so planned to just write about it in the next month or so along with other products (some pr samples some bought) that I quite liked - just a general post really.
So to be brutally honest I know from using the mascara that it doesn't warrant the huge amount of praise it has received so far on the Boots website.
Which is why it think type of marketing is underhand. Actual Boots customers may look at the star rating and buy a specific product based just on that alone (I know I have done a similar thing on Amazon in the past). Customer reviews are there to be unbiased and honest.
I also have a problem with how No7 are recruiting the panellists - On one hand they are suggesting that you could be one of the lucky few almost like it's a light hearted competition but then with on the other hand by commenting you are agreeing to there terms - almost like you are working for them and therefore you have an agreement to up stand.
The word exploitation comes to mind!
I know that alot of you may not care about the customer reviews on Boots.com as most beauty bloggers rely on other blogs & forums as there source of honest reviews. But at the end of the day alot of people don't even think to google a specific product to see different independent reviews - they just read the customer reviews that are give or go off the star rating next to each product.
Which is why I feel it could mislead a lot of customers if this carries on.
I would really love to hear all your opinions on this - is it a case of marketing gone too far or are they just getting with 'the times'?