The problem with product reviews
Since two years ago I have been interacting with many consumer product brands. Some of them are popular global brands like Philips, Samsung, and Procter & Gamble. During this valuable experience, I had some Aha moments and I would like to share a few thoughts with you.
When I started FeedCheck I had discovered a problem at a superficial level. At that moment my description of the problem was something like this: “The consumer brands sell their products in a lot of stores and many of the stores have a review section. So, while the consumer feedback is spread across many places, brands have a hard time managing it”.
I started FeedCheck during a collaboration with Vector Watch, a company that was later acquired by Fitbit. During that period they were selling their smartwatches across thirty web-stores from which eleven had reviews. Their biggest desire was to bring all bad reviews into Zendesk as complaint tickets. At FeedCheck, we could help them achieve that. This is how we started.
Now, after all the experiences I have had, my perspective is a little bit different and here is how.
Consumer brands make products and sell them through one or more distribution channels, the most popular ones, for many brands, being the online retailers. In many cases, the retailers request a feedback from their clients (the consumers) about the products they bought, after they have been delivered and the clients tested them. When a consumer decides to write a review, he gives the copyright of the review to the retail store. This creates a very awkward situation: the retail store becomes the owner of that product review instead of the brand that manufactures or only sells the product and needs to know how consumers experience their product. This anomaly creates the need for FeedCheck, the tool that brings the reviews from retailers to brands be they, sellers or manufacturers.
Another conflict between retailers and brands regards the consumer reviews’ purpose. The retailers use reviews to offer insights about product quality to their future clients and to generate trust by showing how many people have bought the respective product. For the second purpose, trust generation, they use a lot of tricks to maximize a value of reviews. One of this tricks is to share the same reviews across similar products or different models of the same product. Why do they do this? Because this way they create the feeling that many different products/models have way more reviews then they actually have. In this case, the relevance of each product’s review rating is lost, being built on retailer’s own formula that serves them well.
The product reviews are not so product reviews. Often, in their product reviews, consumers address not only their satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the product itself but also comment on the retail price and delivery service. For some products, like cables sold at enormous prices, the user reviews are real acts of sarcasm sometimes.
All these situations are the result of the conflict among the three actors Manufacturers/Brands, Consumers, and Retailers. Manufacturers want to create trust and collect feedback from their consumers. Consumers want to understand better the details and quality of the product, and retailers want to sell.
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