Friend or the Foe: An Islamic Ethical Perspective on the Online Consumers Reviews
Aqeel Shahzad, Saima Naseer, Asif Khurshid
Published Online: June 2019
The advent of internet has enabled the marketers to expand their reach globally. But at the same time, it opens avenues for manipulative practices to the unknown customers by the unknown sellers. Companies not only make false promises and sponsor bloggers and key opinion leaders to obtain incentivized online reviews, but also involve their employees to act as pseudo customers to praise the goods and services. These acts of deception, cheating and manipulative practices are targeted to persuade innocent and uninformed customers to make a purchase decision. These acts are condemned by the customers who raise their voice online and offline in the form of negative WOM resulting in bad reputation and negative perception. Scholars and practitioners alike have been increasingly concerned about such practices. Islam has clearly set rules of business and strictly prohibited such acts of deception and manipulation. This paper is an attempt to review and synthesize literature on the topic and develop a link between Islamic teachings and issues faced by marketing professionals in the present era. Three focus group interviews followed the literature review to get the insights from industry professionals, scholars, academicians and practitioners. The participants of focus groups unanimously agreed with the fact that consumers should not be exploited by creating and sharing fake information and the companies should refrain from exaggeration and false claims. The findings from focus group interview have been analyzed in the light of literature and the views are mentioned at the end of the paper.
Word of Mouth, online consumer reviews, ethics, Islamic marketing, manipulations.