The Lucrative Business of Review Sites

Trendster Cooper Mitchell owns Garage Gym Reviews

Key Takeaways

  • The product review industry has undergone significant change since OG Consumer Reports released its first print issue 85 years ago. The internet, affiliate marketing, and Google Search have played profound roles in reshaping the business.
  • New trends in ecommerce, consumer online behavior, and influencer marketing are opening doors to new opportunities, with many companies making millions of dollars a year in the space.
  • One testament to its growth: BestReviews was recently sold for $160m — $50m more than its purchase price in 2018.
  • Amazon is the largest affiliate network. However, it has been consistently cutting commission rates, leading successful reviewers to forge new affiliate paths.
  • We identified more than a dozen opportunities by evaluating the impact of new acquisition channels on existing high-performing affiliate products and uncovering new product opportunities in reliable distribution channels.
  • Focusing on the one thing all consumers want will give new sites an edge.


“People don’t want a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!” That’s what Harvard professor Theodore Levitt used to say. But as HBS students Momchil Filev and Ben Faw figured out, many people are actually looking for the best drill. 

Filev and Faw were wrapping up their MBAs at Harvard in 2014 and saw an opportunity to capitalize on the $40B of products that are returned each year by consumers who aren’t happy with a purchase.