#TrendReportTuesday - RIP Review Culture
Everyone knows one. The shameless bad-reviewer. The person who doesn’t tip because it was busy and their overworked server couldn’t keep up. The entitled Yelper. Well, buckle in, all of you review-happy individuals. You might be scrapping those reviews drafted on your Notes app pretty soon. It looks like your time to rant has nearly passed. I don’t mean to sound harsh, and trust me – I understand how it feels when your coffee table is a week and a half late without a tracking number. Or when you order fruit and are served fries instead during a diet. Or when you finally found a pair of jeans that fit, but know they’ll be out of style by the time you can reasonably afford them. Truthfully, these are issues brands are generally happy to resolve. Just now, you can’t be an asshole about it. 2016 may be the year that brands start openly acknowledging something we've always secretly suspected: the customer isn't always right. Sorry. (Kind of.)
But, wait. Hasn’t a recent theme been inclusivity and openness? Yep, and actually that's just it. This is a reaction to a massive recent trend – transparency. Until now, companies have endlessly apologized for negative reviews, vowing that things will change and essentially “never happen again.” This is not only dishonest, but it makes real feedback feel pointless. It makes the brand-to-consumer conversation feel stifled, one-sided and just for show.
Everlane recently shattered this norm by openly responding to a consumer on their Facebook. Apparently they received a fairly aggressive “question” from a consumer named Rupert. What did they do? They visually branded the complaint, of course. They paired that with a firm response, proving transparency is not only responsible, but it can be witty, confident, and voicey af. Everlane can’t be messed with. Wanna know why? Because they don’t have anything to hide, and they will make sure you and Rupert know that. They’re careful not to attack or bully the reviewer, but they aren’t taking his crap – okay?! Everlane’s embedding trustworthiness and confidence within the seams of their brand which is more attractive to consumers than a lackluster, forced apology.
In turn, this has upped the culty-factor of brands. Everyone takes a side, ya know what I mean? And those on the side of the brand become fiercely loyal, cheering on the brand for standing up for themselves. Because when the brand stands up for itself, it also stands up for it’s values. In turn, they’re standing up for the brand community and – yep, you guessed it – the loyal consumers, too.
It’s not just Everlane that’s taking this stance. A very different type of brand (and one of our fave Austin businesses) did something similar. For anyone who hasn’t been to an Alamo Drafthouse, first, you should go ASAP. Secondly, they are s e r i o u s about movie-going experiences and that’s something you do not want to test. This is what makes them so wonderful – they are strictly against arriving late or disrupting the movie. If you disrupt a film, you’re given a warning and if it continues, you’re kicked out. Seems pretty fair, right? Well, apparently some would disagree.
An angry irate movie-goer sent the Drafthouse a very interesting voicemail. The woman was cursing at the theater, claiming she was wrongfully ejected from a film for texting. Still, Drafthouse regulars know you check your phone not once, not twice but three times to ensure it’s on silent. (Or maybe that’s just me.) You definitely should leave the theater if you need to briefly check your phone. I mean, it’s just the vibe and everyone knows it’s not to be messed with. The person next to you is probably drinking an $8 milkshake, and you do not want to ruin that magical experience by checking the time.
Alamo’s response was similar to Everlane’s. They branded the complaint and used it as an opportunity to reinforce their rules, their voice and their values. The result? Well, not to be embarrassing but it made me feel safe the first time I saw it. It was like my movie-going experience is truly sacred, and most importantly, protected by their staff. It made me feel like I’ll probably never go to an AMC ever again because they don’t have my back the same way, you know? And of course, they don’t have the $8 milkshakes. And they’re well worth it.