There I was at Babies”R”Us, way back in 2003, manhandling different strollers and finding myself more eager to read the amazon.com reviews than to kick the tires myself – and it had nothing to do with wanting to avoid the in-store shopping experience and everything to do with wanting to make the best purchase decision possible.
So why would I want to read reviews when I could examine the stroller first hand?
Because I was a yet-to-be-first-time parent and I knew that what really separates good from mediocre strollers are the things that only become apparent with longer-term use and/or at least some parenting experience. I wanted to know things like: does the stroller hold up to continued use; how easy is it to load in the car; are there things that start to come in handy that I might not already know about, like one-handed operation, extra cargo room, tight-turning radius, etc. In short, I wanted to know the kind of things I’d be more likely to read about in reviews than I’d be likely to see or think about by taking a 5-minute stroll down the Babies”R”Us aisle with no baby in the stroller.
As it turns out the persuasive appeal of long-term thinking isn’t new to the internet age. In Breakthrough Advertising, Gene Schwartz specifically advises copywriters to “Stretch Out Your Benefits in Time.” But while product copy can do an adequate job of that, it’s nowhere near as credible as a customer review that mentions a product’s enduring or longer-term benefits.
So it was with an overpowering sense of deja vu that I read Holly Buchanan’s post on gender differences in product reviews. Seems men are more likely to mention the product’s immediate usefulness and performance while women are more likely to talk about a product’s longer-term ability to fit into her lifestyle, which might explain why the stroller reviews leaned heavily towards long-term benefits.
My question and suggestion is this: what is your company doing to solicit / elicit long-term product reviews from your customers?
Seems like this would be especially important if your product is in the higher-quality, higher-price-point part of the curve. If your product shines best in long-term performance, what are you doing to ensure those traits and stretched-out-in-time benefits are showing up in your customer reviews?