The Web Promo folks had an excellent Q&A on duplicate content with Google's John Mueller and Andrey Lipattsev and SEOs including Ammon Johns, Bill Slawski, Eric Enge and Jennifer Slegg. I recommend you watch the whole thing but in that video, Andrey Lipattsev from Google said that you won't beat out your competitors by simply rewriting your product descriptions.
He said, "you are not going to solve it [i.e. ranking higher than your e-commerce competitors for a product] by rewriting your descriptions." "That is another thing that people need to understand," he added.
He went on to explain webmasters are thinking about the wrong thing when it comes to these issues. They should think more about how can they be way better than their competitors, not how they can rewrite product descriptions.
And even, that shouldn’t be the first thing people think about. It shouldn’t be the thing people think about at all. You should think about, I have plenty of competition in my space, what am I going to do? And changing a couple of words is not going to be your defining criteria to go on. You know, the thing that makes or breaks a business.
Glenn Gabe summed it up nicely in this tweet:
Google Q&A on Dup Content: You won't win by rewriting product descriptions. It's more about your platform overall https://t.co/BHUgxz0qEZ— Glenn Gabe (@glenngabe) June 17, 2016
He said this at the 16:43 mark into the video. Here is the video embed:
Overall, it is worth watching the whole Q&A. But I like the points Glenn pulled out, here they are:
Google Q&A on Dup Content: Other factors come into play with ranking, like query details & intent, location, etc. https://t.co/Rt3k9pION1— Glenn Gabe (@glenngabe) June 17, 2016
Forum discussion at a href="https://twitter.com/glenngabe/status/743758539034767361">Twitter.