Review Mini-Genre: Online Product Review
An online product review is a short evaluation of a product, posted by a consumer or user, on either an e-commerce site or a consumer information site.
Let’s use the three genre toolkit questions from Chapter 1 to examine this genre.
What is it?
These reviews are short documents that evaluate products that are for sale online. They all contain praise and criticisms of the products reviewed. All three sites share a five-star rating system, a space for a title for the review, and a space for the review itself. Examples 1 and 3 have a question at the bottom for readers of the review to indicate whether the review was helpful.
The criteria that reviewers employ are commonly used standards by which we, as consumers, judge products: is the product useful? Well made? Priced appropriately? Aesthetically pleasing? Durable? Functional?
Example 1, for example, closely examines how well-made the product is, in this case, a coffee grinder. The reviewer discusses the materials and effectiveness of the product: the “plastic seems cheap” and “[t]he burr grinder gets clogged with beans.” Example 2 is a review of computer software for laying out photographs; the reviewer discusses a specific purpose that she uses the software for, and that the software serves this purpose well: creating photo-collages of her children. Thus, for the reviewer in Example 2, the software is useful.
Who reads it?
The primary audience for product reviews are people interested in buying the products, who read the reviews to determine if the products will meet their needs. A secondary audience includes the makers of the products, who read the reviews and update their products based on the feedback reviewers provide.
What’s it for?
Interested buyers use consumer reviews to help them decide whether to purchase the product. The makers of the products use the reviews to help create better products in the future.