Smells like trouble.
One academic sleuth has sniffed out a bizarre connection between bad reviews for Yankee Candles on Amazon and the next COVID surge, saying that a sudden onslaught of one-star savagings ought to be taken as a warning.
Nicholas Beauchamp, an associate professor of political science at Northeastern University in Boston, found an unlikely link between negative feedback for the famously fragrant candles and last December’s Omicron surge.
Beauchamp published a report on the curious causality after studying more than 10,000 customer reviews, citing that those complaining of “no smell” from the candles might actually be suffering from their own loss of smell — a common COVID symptom.
“What I found in the original analysis [in December 2021] was that COVID cases predicted negative reviews, but not really vice versa, which implies, possibly, that it actually is people complaining because they might have [loss of smell],” Beauchamp told CNBC, adding that this was not observed with flu cases.
“When I did it in June , what I found was that it had sort of reversed a bit,” he said. “The reviews were leading, and the Covid cases were lagging. But the reviews really were kind of predictive of the cases going up and down.”
As the weather cools, more and more single star gripes are beginning to appear, and this time, Beauchamp says, he’s been watching as doctors and other healthcare workers connect the dots from last year’s hypothesis.
“What’s kind of interesting this time around is that more of the people making these comments are actual medical professionals instead of random people on Twitter,” he said.
Dr. Jorge Caballero, an anesthesiologist at Stanford Medicine, is one who appears to be intrigued by the fragrant phenomenon, retweeting a string of negative reviews this week, like one left on Oct. 6 for Yankee Candle’s popular Spiced Pumpkin, which the unhappy customer complained had “no fragrance when lit.”
“Due to the way that Amazon groups reviews for different versions of the same product, Yankee Candles are more helpful for spot-checking trends than perfumes,” Caballero tweeted. “It’s possible to look at a large sample size across a variety of scents.”
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