Entire organisations are built around marketing products via reviews thinly veiled as journalism.
The majority of (professional) reviewers paid nothing for the product being reviewed (or next to nothing). Which makes it hard to tout value to an audience that knows—rightly or wrongly—that the reviewer paid nothing for the product.
Some industries are fortunate to enjoy across-the-board quality improvement in recent decades. Initial quality doesn’t vary as widely as it used to, which makes nit-picking faults an easy play for reviewers and those who review their work. How are their expectations impacted by the lack of skin in the game?
If a brand gives you a $200 pocket knife, or a new BMW for the week, you enjoy all the benefits—with none of the opportunity cost.
Of course it will seem a no-brainer for you. You didn’t have to give up $200. You don’t have that $700/mo car payment for the next five years. I’d you did, you’d probably be much more pragmatic.
How much more selective would you be if you had to actually buy every product you review?
This is why Amazon Verified Purchase reviews are so powerful, and why they do so much to limit and constrain “I received this product free in exchange for my honest” reviews.
I think reviews would carry more weight if reviewers shared what they paid for the product, if they paid for it at all (technically, I believe this is required by law these days, but that’s another story), and—light bulb—compared the reviewed products to that which they DID buy.
You know what, we’re going to do some new model reviews on Gearbox, too.