Friday, September 23, 2011

Start-Up Watch COD: CPG Product Discovery Comes of Age With Consmr

These days, when I want to try a new restaurant in the Bay Area, I head over to Yelp to see what others have said about it. When I want to find new books to read, I visit LibraryThing. These platforms are really rather powerful ways to get some perspective on a new business or item.
Not perfect, o’course – there are certainly instances in which bad actors have tried to manipulate the scores.
And there are certainly times when the crowds are decidedly unwise. Witness the fact that at the moment I am writing this, Snooki’s A Shore Thing is rated slightly higher than Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. No matter. These sites can provide AN INVALUABLE INPUT into your decision making process.
One world that hadn’t really been touched by the whole reviews and ratings thing was CPG. Until now. has debuted, billing itself as a fun and easy way to share your opinion about consumer products.
Now, many people think of CPG purchase decisions as fairly low involvement or routinized. I agree that some are, but then again some aren’t. I’ll wager that there are millions of people who get a little pulse race when they see a package of Oreos, or have a strong belief in and loyalty for Tide.
Tide is, after all, a miracle product.
But I digress. Given that CPG touches the lives of virtually every person on the planet, it’s logical to expect that millions of people will care enough about a need or category to read before they buy and review after they try.
The current economic situation exacerbates this tendency. More and more people have to think about how they spend every dollar – buying the wrong $4 cereal is damned important when it’s what you have for the kids to eat all week.
So in my view the opportunity is there. For cult products like Nutella as well asworkaday allies like Swiffer. makes the experience of reviewing, rating, and reading about the most seemingly mundane things engaging and addictive. I’d liken it to when you read 11 pages in Consumer Reports about bar soap testing. Or a long post on Consumerist about someone’s dreadful experience at a big box retailer.
Naturally you won’t read through the pages for every product category, but it’s sort of empowering to know that there are other people who share your interest in a simple, everyday product or activity. offers a variety of ways for brands and companies to partner with them. The site offers ways to engage site visitors in social media campaigns, to create brand activation programs that leverage and expand your audience of brand advocates, contests to drive message virality, and the like. I’ve spoken with one of their charter clients who attested to their flexibility combined with their vigilance to empower consumers and be 100% transparent.
Bloggers and other opinion leaders are also being signed to be category experts for the site. While it may seem a bit odd to think that there is a peanut butter expert out there, I for one have no doubt that there is. Actually, there are probably 43 of them. Which is one of the wonderful things about connected, democratic media. And another reason why I think there’s real business opportunity in Consmr. For them, and for CPG brands.

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