The troubles with Sunday Riley

Let this serve as an important reminder that we cannot always trust the reviews we read for products online. Take everything, and anything, said with a grain of salt and make the decision that’s best for you with respect to spending your money online.

Skincare brand ‘Sunday Riley’ has reached a settlement with the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) of which the amount is not being publicly shared, for two violations made. Employees noted that they were instructed, for more than two years, to write fake positive reviews on Sunday Riley products and to dislike the negative reviews.

Why this is a big issue?

Sephora is a premier skincare and makeup retailer in North America and one of the biggest, if not the biggest seller of Sunday Riley on this continent. The Sephora website allows for people to search for products by ‘Highest Rated’ and ‘Relevancy’, relevancy of which being determined by how many times that product has been searched for.

If Sunday Riley has been driving up the relevancy and the ratings of their products on the Sephora website, to ensure their products stay at the top of lists for people searching, they are, in effect, falsely marketing their products to consumers and also, lying about the effectiveness of their products.

Employees noted being instructed by the CEO to not just leave a review talking about how great the product is, but to leave specific comments such as “This product completely cleared up my acne!” A completely unsubstantiated claim that misleads customers to a product’s effectiveness and also, undermines the entire product review section as a whole.

Product reviews are used for online shopping on a global scale. Why? Because if we’re not going to be able to see, feel and test a product prior to purchasing, the review section can allow us to get some sort of an idea that we’re purchasing quality. Reviews contribute greatly to how people spend their money online. Sunday Riley knew this and that is why they falsely propagated myths about their brand as a means to stay one of the ‘hot commodities’ on Sephora’s online ‘shelf’.

Reviews, are in a sense, marketing. They can either help or hinder the sale of a product or brand online. Sunday Riley’s actions really hurt all beauty/skincare brands in the process, and potentially a lot other industries as well. Their ‘slap on the wrist’ undisclosed fine from the FTC and being ‘told to not write any more reviews’ will cause a lot of people to seriously reconsider how they shop on Sephora’s website and elsewhere, if they’re a frequent Sephora shopper or not.

Note: I have purchased Sunday Riley products in the past. I just never really found them to be that effective. Sunday Riley products can cost anywhere from $30 Canadian (for a travel size) to more than $200 per bottle for one single treatment.

P.P.S. – I’d bet good money that ‘Influencer Marketing’ for this brand goes WAAAAAAAAAAAAY up in the coming months as they try to bounce back from this negative press. Every ‘Influencer’ is going to be talking this brand up the whazoo, and they’ll probably be paid thousands of dollars each to do so…

Sources:

Fast Company >

Global News >