Product reviews are not for everyonePosted: June 18, 2009
People like to read reviews of products in magazines they trust. They are helpful when they are making even a small purchase. For many though, the ratings of other buyers on sites such as Amazon.com or Bestbuy.com are fast becoming a ‘good enough’ barometer of the quality and value of a product. Indeed an entire industry has emerged to harness the power of user generated product or service feedback – tripadvisor.com being one of the notable success stories. But the generation of these user reviews does of course rely on some people having bought the service or product. After all, if there no users, there will be no user reviews. This is where the media and now certain blogs, have an advantage. They guide the early adopters of products. A good recent example of this is the Palm Pre. Google or Bing reviews of this product and you’ll see that at this stage there are plenty of product reviews at places like C|Net or Gizmodo but you won’t (or at least I couldn’t) find any customer generated reviews on major sites. Of course that will change in time but it’s clear that only those buying the phone early in its life will just have these more traditional product reviews. Which brings me to my point – product reviews are not for the masses, they are for the early adopters. Does this change the way PR people tackle product reviews? I suspect it should. Early adopters are by definition different. They have slightly different demands to the normal users. It would be useful for communications staff to profile early adopters and look at what characteristics they have and how the product being promoted appeals (or doesn’t appeal) to those characteristics.