This update to Amazon’s terms removes new reviews from consumers who have received a free or discounted product to test, though incentivized reviews were previously allowed as long as they contained proper disclosure.
This dramatic shift has wide implications for the marketing community.
Why the change is a big deal
To many new and unknown—and even low innovation/involvement organizations—incentivized reviews have been an effective way to build a foundation of word-of-mouth equity to grow awareness on social media and e-commerce channels.
Marketing-induced, consumer-to-consumer word of mouth generates twice the sales of paid advertising. The idea of brand managers partnering with consumers to generate content is not new, but it has exploded due to the tremendous scale and measurability of online outlets and has become a staple in marketing plans.
Just as with all marketing initiatives, there is a right and wrong way to approach consumer reviews. Done correctly, brand managers can encourage quality opinions that educate prospective customers who want experiences from real people.