Why Reviews are Important
Reviews are important for a few reasons. First off, reviews offer insight and different opinions about different products, providing some information to the consumer prior you spending your hard-earned money on it. Which is good, because (at least in my opinion) it's hard to spend $200+ on something when you know very little about it. It's better to buy something that you've heard good things about, or something that's been vetted by someone that's trusted. In a industry where most hookah shopping is done online, and you can't really try before you buy, this is the next best thing. Secondly, reviews are just as important, if not more so, to manufacturers and vendors because it's virtually their only option of marketing. It helps newer brands get their name out into the community, and keep not-so-new brands fresh in the minds of the community. It also helps vendors improve upon their product if there's something that needs changed, or something that isn't going over super well. Good manufacturers will take feedback and use it to improve upon their product, which helps both the consumer and the manufacturer reach a better end result.
Reviewers, as the people that make reviews, have a very important job. Obviously they make the reviews, but ultimately they have complete control over what they say they like, or what they don't. This means that you want opinions and reviews from someone that's unbiased - someone that is giving their honest opinion to you, the consumer, about whether or not they like the product; whether it's good, whether it's bad, and so on and so forth. Unfortunately, this isn't the case for all reviewers. Once reviewers have established themselves, they have a reputation for being trustworthy people, and someone whose opinion you value. You listen to them, and if they say something is bad, you trust that it's bad. So if someone you trust says that they really don't like a certain product, you're more inclined not to buy that product because of that. Of course, that isn't the case for everyone. Sometimes they may just not like certain flavors because of palate, or a hookah for how it looks. It's important to decide for yourself whether or not you take everything a reviewer says into consideration. A big aspect of reviewing is the product. If a manufacturer is inclined to send someone a product review, does that sway someones opinion on whether or not they'll give a positive or negative review? In a perfect world, it shouldn't. Does that mean it always doesn't? Of course not. There are many fly-by-night reviewers that review because they want free stuff. This is a prime example of what you want to avoid in a hookah reviewer, as it means the reviewer will be more concerned with making the manufacturers happier than they will be with giving you the honest and unbiased opinion. There's no clear method of determining if a reviewer is doing this or not, unfortunately. The best way is to trust your gut - this kind of reviewer generally won't stick around permanently, and they won't be active. The best indication of a great reviewer is someone that's active in the community - someone that helps people out, and someone that clearly cares about the industry. Not all reviewers can be totally involved in the industry of course, they too are normal people who have lives outside of reviewing.
A Few Reviewers
"But Wade," you may ask, "what reviewers do you think I should watch for?" Well I'm glad you ask, because I've compiled a small list of a few great reviewers.
StrictlyShisha is a YouTube reviewer that's well known for giving solid information, being a friendly guy, and helping out the community. You can find his YouTube channel here.
Mike is a picture reviewer that is found on r/hookah, and is regarded as easily the best picture reviewer around - he was even the first one to do picture reviews. He's well known on Reddit for taking fantastic pictures, having informative reviews, and being one of the most helpful members of the r/hookah community. You can view all of his posts here.
Shaunn is a reviewer that has been around for a long time, and actually works in the industry as the social media and marketing head for Hookah-Shisha.com. He's not as active as some other reviewers, but he still has some of the most solid information to be found on his YouTube channel, and is one of the friendliest members of the hookah community. You can find his YouTube channel here.
Hookah and Beyond
Adam Rice (Mr. Hookah and Beyond) is a lounge owner of the same name as his YouTube channel that helped garner him his reputation. He's not very active much anymore, as he is running the lounge full-time, but his channel is still full of extremely helpful reviews, and a ton of knowledge to help out anyone that needs it. You can visit his lounge, Hookah and Beyond in Knoxville, Tennessee, and can find his YouTube channel here.
Mike Blackstone, owner and creator of the famous Facebook group, Hookah Enthusiasts, runs a YouTube page of the same name, where he provides solid information, unbiased reviews, and can be found everywhere helping to grow the overall hookah community. You can find his YouTube channel here.
Fletcher Knoxville and Tyler Stooksberry, the Hookah Hipsters, are the creators of the YouTube channel Hookah.Tv. They aren't extremely active anymore, but nonetheless you can find a ton of helpful reviews, insightful tricks, and great information. You can find Hookah.tv here.
Christian, the HookahChef, is a well known reviewer that's been around for a while, and is very active on the Hookah Enthusiast Facebook page. His channel is full of extremely helpful information, honest reviews, and great tips. You can find his YouTube channel here.
Alex, or thelonesloth, is both a picture and video reviewer. He's a rare breed that can be found giving helpful information both on the Hookah Enthusiasts Facebook page, as well as the r/hookah community. You can find his YouTube channel here, and his picture reviews here.
To summarize, hookah reviews and hookah reviewers are extremely important to the industry, both to you as a consumer, and to the manufacturer. Hookah wouldn't be able to grow nearly as much as it does without them, and they're definitely worth your attention. I didn't cover every reviewer out there, there are several more that are fantastic and extremely helpful, but for the sake of keeping the list short I've just given you a few. These are primarily American reviewers as well, as most reading this are going to be in the American audience. Beyond the U.S., you have an even wider array of reviewers like Hookah Boss and Sugarless Narguile. There are other types of channels out there as well that provide info to the hookah community that aren't necessarily reviews, with channels like HookahJohn. HookahJohn and pages like HookahJohn aren't necessarily reviews, but more just overall product summaries. These can still be extremely helpful, but aren't as detailed as reviews. Of course, as helpful as reviews can be, it's ultimately up to you as the consumer to decide what you want to buy. These reviews are meant to be a general guide, and help you figure it out. So go subscribe to everyone that I've mentioned, as they're all extremely beneficial to the community, and can help you along your hookah journey. As always, thanks so much for reading, and happy smokes!