The story of the Indian Hotel Manager
Have you ever backpacked in a foreign non-western country where tourists are a major source of income? India, Mexico, Morocco or Indonesia for example? If so, you’ve probably experienced a taxi driver who told you this story: “Sorry! The place you want to go to is closed. I know a much better place”. It’s impossible to convince the driver you don’t want to see the other place but before you can open the door, he’s driving and he doesn’t stop until you are at the reception of an unknown hotel. Sheepishly you get out, and while you stand there, you see the Indian hotel manager paying the cab driver a sum for bringing you there.
Don’t become your customer’s hostage
You might think the hotel manager is smart, paying each cab driver an amount for bringing in guests but it is the opposite: from the moment the hotel manager started paying for guests, he lost his reason to exist. From that moment, he became part of a rat race, making him dependent on the demands and perks of the cab drivers and the bids of other hotel managers in his area.
If you, as a product manager, incentivize consumers to write about your product or service, you are like the Indian hotel manager. There is no turning back, and you will be held hostage by your customers. This has already happened in the beauty and fashion industry where vloggers, and Instagrammers make or break you depending on your budget.
Five reasons why you don’t have to incentivize consumers to write reviews
Here's the good news: we know giving people the possibility to experience your product is already such a big ‘gift’ that you don’t need to give anything else. How do we know this?
From our international community of reviewers, which has currently over 20,000 members, no one has ever been offered a gift or money in exchange for reviews. Yet, we can account for more than 30,000 opinions currently online.
When asking the community about their motivations, we found that we could place them in five different categories:
1) Consumers who are genuinely curious about your product
Some people just love new things. The possibility of being able to experience the newest products of the brands they love, triggers their curiosity.
2) Consumers who Test a product or a service to make a better buying decision
When consumers are looking to buy a new smartphone, Bluetooth speaker, vacuum cleaner, electric toothbrush or any other product, they love the opportunity to test something before they actually buy it. For these consumers, receiving a product for a month is the exact thing they need to make a purchase decision.
3) Consumers who love to write reviews, share their opinion and show their expertise
A hobbyist thinks of himself as an expert in the field (and he usually is), and he is dying to show this knowledge to others in return for appreciation.
4) Consumers who feel appreciated when you ask what they think
There is a constant pressure to do what others tell you to do: at home, at the office, in social and public life. Asking for a genuine opinion because you value what the person says, makes consumers feel appreciated.
5) Consumers who love to help other consumers
Helping others is human. We love to do it because it makes us feel good. Telling a consumer that writing a review will help other people in making a better decision is enough motivation to make them spent 30 minutes on a computer to do so.
So if you want more online reviews for your products, don’t fall into the trap of the Indian hotel manager. Never incentivize those who write about you. It’s just not necessary.