The more we write our reviews, the more we are concerned about a growing trend for review writers—reviews seem overly positive, or seem absent all together.
Since we started putting together our reviews on Living Barefoot, we have always felt passionately that being honest about the products we review is key to our success. We don’t want to be known as the place that has great reviews, we want to be known as the place that has great HONEST reviews. After all, when you are researching a product, you want to know what people really think. You don’t want to buy something only to find out it’s not what you expected at all.
So why am I concerned? When I look around at the majority of websites that review minimalist products, I see a very concerning lack of negative or constructive feedback. That makes me concerned. When I did some digging I found out that some sites will simply send products back and decline to write a review. I suspect this happens fairly often. I also suspect that other reviewers will concentrate on the positive aspects of a product, thus giving it a positive spin where perhaps a more balanced approach would be more beneficial.
Why is this happening?
The answer is easy and choices as a reviewer are difficult. Let’s face it, sites like ours rely on the good relationships we build with the manufacturers of the products we review. Without those relationships we couldn’t do our job. We also rely on the ability to review as much product as we can, so that we can generate as much traffic as we can, so that we can at least cover the cost of running our websites. Therein lies the challenge. Will writing a poor review of a product crumble the relationship with the manufacturers we rely on for products? It may, but the bigger question is one of integrity. Is it more important to report the truth or impress the manufacturers?
For us the answer is simple. We feel that writing honest reviews no matter what the outcome is our duty. It is our job to provide our readers with the real story, no matter how difficult that may be. This doesn’t mean we will be unfair, but we will be honest.
Should manufacturers fear having us review their products? Not at all. In fact, any manufacturer who wants to send us samples for feedback can do so at any time. We are more than happy to provide specific feedback to manufacturers about a product they are in the process of developing. Furthermore, during the review process we frequently contact companies in the hope that problems we find are in fact due to pre-production issues. Often these issues are resolved easily. We are not unfair.
So what made me write this article in the first place? From time to time we receive products that have already gone to market, or that are about to go to market, that have missed the boat all together when it comes to minimalist shoes. Some of these products are from major brands with huge R&D departments. All of them should know better by now, and so far, not a single one of these products has received a poor review on any site other than ours. Something about that isn’t right.
We have entered a new period in shoe manufacturing. We have entered a time when the shoe industry in this category is driven by consumer demand, and not technology and marketing. Most manufactures want to tap into this market, but some simply aren’t doing their homework. Shoe models that claim to allow natural foot movement, claim to be “like being barefoot” or claim to be a minimalist shoe should do so. Producing a stiff, narrow, anatomically incorrect shoe with a heel and calling it a minimalist shoe is almost fraud in my mind. When companies do this, I’m very happy to point out the inconsistencies. In fact, they should be called out. It’s time that companies were honest. To all reviewers out there who review products in the minimalist category, I call upon all of you to not sweep these issues under the rug. For those that are not willing to do so, your sites become nothing more than an extension of the marketing department for the companies you serve. We have a responsibility to the public to be honest not only because it is our job, but also because we are, after all, the experts.
As you read our reviews, please keep in mind that our reviewers review shoes in terms of their suitability for those looking to find the highest quality minimalist shoe products. All reviews are as factual as possible. In an effort to be transparent and ethical, we will point out any defects found, even if these do not affect the usability of the product. Not all defects will be present in final production shoes as we are sometimes offered “seconds” or pre-release products in an effort to provide you with reviews in a timely manor. In the event that serious issues are found with a review sample we will give every opportunity for the manufacturer to replace to explain the review samples before the final review is released. We never accept payments for reviews. We do not guarantee a good review for any products sent to us. We do not review products that do not claim to be minimalist or “barefoot like” unless we receive a significant number of requests from readers or listeners.
Should you have any questions about our review process or would like your product reviewed on our site, please do not hesitate to contact us using our contact page.
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