Consumer Reports vs. Amazon Reviews

The digital age has given us the ability to access millions of products and consumer reviews directly from our phones. The mass amount of information can be a double edged sword. It can be both helpful and confusing. On the other hand, there are consumer resources available that dedicate millions of dollars and countless hours to create unbiased, thorough reviews. How do these two opposing forms of consumer reporting measure up against each another? Let’s take a look.

Dedication in Research

Consumer Reports is a company who has been in business since 1936. According to consumerreports.org it’s an, “Independent, nonprofit member organization that works side by side with consumers for truth, transparency, and fairness in the marketplace. In addition to our rigorous research, investigative journalism, and consumer advocacy, we work with other organizations, including media, consumer groups, research and testing consortiums, and philanthropic partners to inform purchase decisions, improve the products and services that businesses deliver, and drive regulatory and fair competitive practices.”  Additionally, Paul Hiebert of theatlantic.com states that Consumer Reports employs, “More than 120 employees, with an annual testing budget of approximately $25 million, evaluate some 3,000 products a year. The results of these impartial studies are then gathered, examined, and published, ad-free, in Consumer Reports. Its mission: Equip consumers with the “knowledge they need to make better and more informed choices.” This job is done with a lot of thought and preparation in mind. Reports are created and distributed with the sole intention of helping consumers make smart decisions when purchasing new products.

Open to Anyone

In recent years, Consumer Reports has consistently lost memberships as well as money. They attribute their losses to new competitors. Hiebert also states, “These competitors are, in many cases, average consumers, who write their own reviews as soon as products come out and post them on the very websites where shopping decisions are made—a practice that has not only become ubiquitous but, in doing so, made Consumer Reports’s manner of appraisal feel removed from the modern retail experience. In Nielsen’s 2015 “Global Trust In Advertising” report, for instance, around two-thirds of respondents indicated that they trust consumer opinions posted online, and that they were either always or sometimes willing to take action based on those opinions. As for young people, a 2014 poll found that Millennials consider online peer reviews to be slightly more trustworthy and memorable than professional ones.” The upcoming generations simply do not feel the need to seek out professional opinions when they can view ample feedback online for free. The massive amounts of fraud that run rampant through online reviews don’t seem to bother modern consumers.

It seems the key to success in consumer reports is finding a source you trust. On paper, these two forms of consumer reporting (provessional, unbiased opinions vs. the opinions of unknown online reviewers) don’t match up. However, the convenience of accessing online platforms is extremely appealing to modern day consumers and looks to remain that way.