According to a report published by Reboot Digital, one in five business owners would consider sabotaging an online competitor if they knew they could get away with it.
Sabotaging a business competitor is not a new concept for businesses. Acts can range from discrediting products or services with fake negative reviews to hacking a website or running a spam link campaign that would prompt a penalty from Google.
Reboot Digital surveyed 1,672 business owners to find which industries were more willing to act unethically towards a rival business, and what methods they were willing to use against them.
While 81.7% of business owners said they would not consider harming the online operations of a business competitor, 18.3% would not hesitate to follow through with a malicious plan to downturn another business.
The reasons cited by respondents varied. However, “I have a better product” was cited by 30% of respondents as the reason they would consider damaging a competitor’s reputation. Additionally, 18% of business owners said “to make them lose their clients,” and “my competitor is doing ‘black hat’ SEO to get ahead” was specified by 15%.
On the subject of which sectors were more likely to attempt such foul play, recruitment and HR ranked first, with 25%, followed by advertising/marketing/PR, at 22%, Travel/Tourism at 20%, Business/Finance with 19%, and Creative Arts and Design, with only 14%.
When it comes to potential nefarious methods used in a sabotage campaign, posting fake reviews on popular review platforms was listed by 57% of respondents, running a negative influencer campaign was the chosen technique for 26%, and running a negative SEO campaign was picked by 14%. Only 3% of business owners would consider hacking a website to sabotage a competitor.
On an encouraging note, “99.7% of those surveyed haven’t sabotaged a competitor, whilst just a tiny 0.3% admitted they have damaged the online reputation of another business they compete with,” researchers said.