Customer reviews are one of the most valuable inputs for companies to shape their future. Why is it then that consumers give away such an important tool to companies but yet don’t get rewarded for it? Birchbox, is one of the first companies to revolutionize what valuing the customer really means.

They created a business model where everybody wins: cosmetic producers, customers, and of course, Birchbox. They built a subscription model where for $10 a month, customers get five personalized beauty samples. They give customers the option of reviewing those items, and if they do, they get 50% off their monthly subscription. Cosmetic producers win, as they are able to reach a homogenous population across the US, and get instant feedback on their first release of their beauty samples. Their best sellers get as much as 60,000 customer reviews for each product! Customers win, as they not only get a great service, but also get truly rewarded for their important feedback.

Why is it that customers should be #1 on every company, but yet, very few use this type of business models to connect to customers? Will this be the new revolution for online customer interaction?

There is an “untapped” opportunity in the online-retailers today, where companies could leverage this business model to get feedback on their prototypes or products.  In the startup world, one of the biggest challenges we have is finding a large network of customers that are willing to review your prototypes or early stage products.

Companies like Birchbox, give access to a large amount of customers that are willing to help companies test and tailor their products on their early releases. Birchbox started with cosmetics, but imagine if we had these networks for other consumer products. Large-scale food producers could find this model extremely useful. They would be able to reach a large population across the US, and even globally, and have consumers taste and review their products before they mass-produce them.

There are endless possibilities to apply this business model into different industries, de-risking market adoption significantly. The constant interaction of customers and companies throughout the lifetime of the product or service is key to the success of any company. Customer reviews should be an integral part of companies’ day-to-day interaction with customers, and Birchbox has found a “sweet spot” to make this possible.

By: Maria Elena (Malena) Gonzalez Dabdoub

read more