By Erika Morphy
It was only a matter of time before a site like Consmr launched. Actually, one did - Amazon - although as we know Amazon is a lot more than just about consumer reviews for packaged goods, which is where Consmr is hoping to make its mark.
Being billed as the next Yelp for supermarket products, Consmr ranks consumer-packaged goods based on reviews from consumers, bloggers and a couple of editorial publications.
Its founder is Ryan Charles, who was head of interactive products and marketing at Zagat, according to Mashable.
Categories on the site range from frozen foods to snacks and candy to organic products to, well everything. Hair care, skin care, baby products, fitness. Right now, for instance, the site is calling for people to rate Oreo Chocolate Sandwich Cookies (currently at four stars out of five) , Special K Red Berries Cereal (four) and Canada Dry Ginger Ale (ditto).
There is also space for people to post their opinions about the product.
Clearly, this can get old very soon very fast. How many ways can one rant or rave about a staple like Oreos? But there is a chance this site could morph into an interesting player for two reasons.
One, Zagat's brand builder is behind it. And the space could use some game-changing tactics.
Centralized sites devoted to product reviews can be hit or miss in terms of participation and online eyeballs. They can also be overwhelmingly cluttered. Epinions is a great site, one that people automatically gravitate to for, say, electronics or toys. But not as many associate food products with it, much less cooking tips, which, by the way, they should.
So there is room for a strong player to lend its voice to consumers. In fact, if I can go completely off reservation here, there is room in the product review/consumer profile space for a site that serves as a repository for consumer outrage over defective or poorly performing products, sort of like, well, Yelp has become for local businesses.
Yes, Facebook has taken on that role to a large extent. (Consider the evolution of the outcry over a product Procter & Gamble introduced called Dry Max diapers. Whether it did or didn't cause rashes - and Procter & Gamble and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission says it didn't - grumbling metastasized with a Facebook page formed by aggrieved parents more than a year ago called Pampers Bring Back the Old Cruisers/Swaddlers. And where did it end? Several days ago, with Procter & Gamble settling a class-action lawsuit.)
Facebook, though, is also the home of many, many corporate pages. Some consumers might feel more comfortable gripping on a site dedicated all to them.
Two, consumers are dying to give their opinion about the products they buy. This message is aimed squarely at brands and retailers that don’t give their customers a venue to vent and praise.
In a few weeks CrossView, a premier provider of cross-channel commerce solutions, is going to release the results of a survey that found that 48% of retailers are not offering product ratings or reviews on their website. The survey examined the cross-channel capabilities of 25 top retailers, including Abercrombie & Fitch, PetSmart, J.Crew and Foot Locker, among others.
It is a surprising finding, says Jason Goldberg, vice president, strategy & customer experience, CrossView, because ratings and reviews are the best way to offer shoppers 'social proof' - which has largely replaced 'brand' as the leading influence on purchase decisions.
Retailers who currently offer product ratings and reviews the survey reports, include American Eagle, Best Buy, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Foot Locker, Game Stop, Gander Mountain, PetSmart, Sears, Target, Tractor Supply, The Children’s Place, The Limited, and Urban Outfitters.