Shopping Social Network Flip Challenges Honesty in Reviews


On the surface, Flip, a shopping social network, provides consumers with brutally honest reviews — an element of the shopping experience that has been scarce in the retail industry.

But that’s what TikTok’s for, right? Generation Z craves anything with an authentic baseline and isn’t down for the generic sponsored influencer review.

With this in mind, Flip is looking to establish a secure and comfortable environment where consumers can express their honest opinions without any worry of jeopardizing their integrity or any possible brand affiliations.

In an interview with PYMNTS, Flip founder and CEO Noor Agha said: “If you’re obsessed about everything, then what is bad out there?”

The idea is that relying solely on the internet may not be the best approach for consumers looking to explore new products as brands control how information about their products is shared and communicated through influencers and advertisements. That makes it difficult for consumers to find a reliable source of information.

To establish a trustworthy source, retailers and brands need to detach themselves from the conversation altogether.

“Which means the only way for this to happen is to build a platform where the only power in this platform is to the shopper,” Noor said.

What Authenticity Means Today

In the last five years alone, the term “authenticity” in the commerce space has been a bit loosey-goosey. Because of this, in 2017, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued guidelines that require influencers to disclose their relationship with a brand if they receive any compensation for promoting their products through sponsored posts, videos and product reviews.

Similarly, platforms like Instagram and YouTube implemented policies that require influencers to disclose if a post is sponsored.

At first, disclosing sponsored posts was seen as a positive step toward increasing transparency and authenticity in influencer marketing. But a new trend has emerged called “deinfluencing,” which allows brands to take advantage of this practice. This trend involves creating videos that focus on the drawbacks of a competitor’s product while promoting their product instead.

Over time, influencers have become adept at producing various types of videos, such as “Day in the Life” videos that showcase different aspects of their day, such as their morning workout or skincare routine, making it extremely easy for influencers to feature their “favorite” (sponsored) products.

“It’s simply become managed fake reviews that look real,” said Noor.

How Flip Instills Trust in the Shopping Experience

Establishing trust is a crucial aspect of commerce. Flip upholds strict policies that prohibit brands from exerting any influence on product reviews, ensuring that the reviews are honest and credible.

Moreover, Flip’s policies require brands not to engage with anyone on the platform regarding their products. If Flip discovers any instance of a brand paying a creator to promote its product, the brand and creator are promptly banned from the platform. This is in stark contrast to other social networks, where brands frequently pay creators to endorse their products.

“People are genuinely craving honesty when it comes to product recommendations, as there is an overwhelming amount of content on everything everywhere,” Noor said. “Consumers are immune to this, and we see it in the numbers. Interestingly, the most successful creators on Flip do not even have an Instagram account.”

How Flip Works

To create a product review on Flip, a user must first make a purchase.

After the order has been placed and delivered to the recipient’s location, the user can create and submit a review. Noor said this procedure is automated and integrated with a logistics system, representing the first time a camera is linked to both the physical transaction and the product’s delivery location.

The primary incentive for customers to shop on Flip is the quality of service, which encompasses fast and dependable shipping, easy and free returns, and a feeling of security that eliminates the risk associated with buying from Flip, Noor said.

“If the post-purchase experience is not the best in class, it all doesn’t matter,” Noor said.

In addition to the quality of service, Noor said every person who watches videos on Flip is a shopper and has the potential to contribute to the ecosystem, which is an important realization that serves as an added incentive. Anyone who is a shopper on Flip has automatic access to create a dashboard where they can connect their bank account and transfer money.

Flip does not have an approval process, so everyone who is a shopper on Flip can contribute and earn a percentage, which can be converted to Flip cash or transferred to a bank account, he said. Users who choose to transfer their money can expect it in as little as an hour.

Who Uses Flip?

Noor said the top 10% of creators on Flip are users who hold senior titles in the workforce and are ultimately driven by a genuine passion for a particular product or service they have bought. They aren’t aiming to earn a livelihood by reviewing products. Instead, these individuals derive a sense of fulfillment from imparting value to others and the monetary reward further enhances their experience.

“Nobody’s telling you how rich they are, how perfect their life is,” Noor said. “It is genuinely about the product and how this product is part of their life.”

The majority (60-65%) of Flip’s users are in the age 25 to 45 demographic, and the fastest growing segment is age 30 and under. But Flip is not only for young shoppers. The app also has a community of users over age 60, who represent only 2-3% of the entire user base but are highly engaged because they have brought their friends and family onboard the app, engage with each other’s content daily, and often fund their future purchases through Flip rewards.

Brands That Partner With Flip

For brands to thrive on the platform, they need to be confident in their products. If they receive a bad review, they need to be willing to learn from it.

Today, Flip collaborates with brands in a diverse range of categories such as lifestyle, wellness and nutrition, electronics, fitness and home goods. Some of the notable names include e.l.f. Cosmetics, HUM Nutrition, Olaplex, Supergoop, Becca Cosmetics and Keys Soulcare by Alicia Keys.

According to Noor, the success of these brands has led to a shift in the types of individuals that brands are seeking out for promotion beyond the typical targets approved by marketing managers. The success of these creators has been notable and has pushed brands to seek out authentic people to endorse their products.

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