In a 1969 speech President Richard Nixon ended up coining a term that would come to haunt everybody trying to build a business around a product or a service. The term was “The Silent Majority.”

Back then anti-Vietnam War movement was gaining ground all over the US. President Richard Nixon postulated that the people protesting war were a minority but majority of the people who didn’t bother to come out and protest (thus remaining silent) were actually in favour of the war. In the process he ended up coining the term “The Silent Majority.”

Defining Silent Majority

The Silent Majority is THAT 90% of any group that won’t voluntarily provide any opinion or feedback.

Size of the Silent Majority

The silent MajorityBased on love or hate for your product or service, your consumers will fall under the 5:90:5 ratio. For now, let us call this Rajan’s Ratio. Do note that Rajan’s Ratio hasn’t been proved yet, but has been arrived at basis my experience building Internet products for the last 16 years.

In Rajan’s ratio, the first 5% will be Critics of your product/service, the last 5% the admirers of your product/service and the huge 90% in the middle will be the silent majority.

The Critics

The Critics will keep finding fault with whatever you do. These are the users who will keep coming to you with complaints about your service, bugs in your product & feature requests etc. If you own an application and it is on the app stores, these are the users most likely to leave comments voluntarily.

These are the most vociferous subset of your users so even a few will sound like it is a majority voice.

As for what you should do with them – keep them close to yourself, but don’t act on what they say. Keep accumulating criticism from these critics till it doesn’t reach a threshold and then act.

The Admirers

The Admirers just love your product or service and give you five star ratings – either at the app stores, in social media or while interacting within or outside of their spheres of influence. The best of admirers are also users with very low expectations so never consider what they say as feedback on your product or service.

As for what to do with them – keep them close to you ONLY because it is healthy to hear appreciate words once in a while.

The Silent Majority

This major set of users is known as the Silent Majority because their love or hatred for your product or service is still below the threshold mark and hence they won’t bother to provide feedback. Their love or hatred for your product or service will be of varying degrees on both sides of the x-axis. Depending on where in the x-axis they are currently placed they have the potential to either become an Admirer or a Critic.

listeningBy the sheer size alone, the silent Majority is an important group. They aren’t going to give you any voluntary feedback but involuntarily they are giving you a lot of feedback – which you can find via your indigenous analytics built in, via A&B testing, or by pointed questions aimed at them directly.

Learn how they use your products & services, try and solve their problems and keep them in this ‘Silent Majority’ zone. If you have mastered this art, you have it all covered.

In fact, the Silent Majority is more likely to be loyal to you than the Admirers because the average Silent Majority is more emotionally balanced than the average Admirers.

The Conclusion

To sum it up, if you ONLY listen to the Critics & the Admirers and ignore the SILENT Majority…you are setting yourself up to be the reactive Product Manager. To be the proactive Product manager, listen to CRITICS & ADMIRERS but more importantly….create ways to hear out the huge Silent Majority.

Product Managers or Business Head need a stethoscope to listen to The Silent Majority – but once you can hear them, you will know what is best for your users.