Yelp for CPG Brands

Jun 27, 2011
Bernice Hurst

The latest social network
designed for making life — and opinion
sharing — easier
has just been launched with a philosophy dedicated to consumers and the products
they love or hate, as the case may be.

Only available in beta at the moment, enables users to review and “check-in” to
consumer packaged goods, according to the launch announcement. The plan is
to enable ratings and interaction with products in twenty different categories.
Comments can also be sent instantly to Facebook, Twitter and other social networks,
spreading opinions fast and wide.

Simply put, consumers will be able to search
for either product names or categories, and reach a single site with all the
ratings they could possibly want. As Ad Age says, Consmr will be the “Yelp
of packaged goods” for
some 50,000 products.

Through a partnership with Rodale, visitors to Consmr will
also have access to tips and reviews from Men’s Health, Women’s Health and
Prevention magazines.

Contributions are rewarded through virtual badges known
as “flair.” These,
plus shared activity, should offer brands new opportunities for capitalizing
on social media, Consmr said in its statement. Badges show up whenever users
check-in as well as when clicking Facebook and Twitter links. Check-in is encouraged
for “sharing” and “putting context around an activity,” according to

“When I shop, I never know what organic foods to buy or which face
wash is the best,” said Consmr co-founder and CEO Ryan Charles, in a statement. “Our
goal is to answer those questions with a social resource for everyday products.
We provide a forum to share opinions, assist with the trial and error shopping
process, and promote product discovery through friends and community.”

Charles previously served as head of mobile, interactive products and marketing
at Zagat, the diner’s guide.

Ad Age believes the timing is good as it coincides
with large companies’ experiments
with Facebook sales and online stores. Mashable also quotes Mr. Charles’
conviction that Consmr will overcome the currently fragmented information available.

Boyd Myers wrote on, “by the time I get to work
in the morning I’ve used over 20 different products that I could’ve
rated on Consmr.”

Discussion Questions: How receptive to you think consumers will be to a Yelp-like service for CPG brands like Consmr? Do such websites appear positive or negative for brands and retailers?

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11 Comments on " Yelp for CPG Brands"

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Dr. Stephen Needel
9 years 10 months ago

If navigation is simple, this may solve the problem of “who has the time to visit 20 websites?” for CPG products. Like any new product, the question is whether they can get repeaters. This may be tied to navigation or to veracity. If I like Gia Russa pasta sauce and everyone else rates it badly, then I’m likely to dismiss their evaluation and eventually the whole system.

Makes you wonder who is so conflicted about their pasta sauce, their toothpaste, and their toilet paper that they have to see what others think.

Warren Thayer
9 years 10 months ago

I used to troll Yelp and other similar sites, trying to find reviews of supermarkets to help with stories I was writing. But, like many of the chat rooms for investors, most of the reviews seem to come from malcontents and screamers or, to put it another way, people I would not enjoy sitting down and having a beer with. I stopped even looking about a year ago. Different sites have different cultures. Many travel sites have enough reviews of hotels that you can get a good idea of places, filtering out obvious nut cases. But others are just populated by screamers and, accordingly, useless. I hope this one is useful, but I’m wary.

Dan Frechtling
9 years 10 months ago

The articles and comments elsewhere about form a lively debate.

Proponents cite studies showing more shoppers research CPG products online, yet lack a CPG social resource. Consmr’s combination of broad appeal and gamification encourages participation.

Detractors say CPG purchases lack the motivations that drive sites like Yelp–namely the investment in money and time that is wasted by poor decisions. The stakes aren’t as high for home cleaner on Consmr as they are for home repair on Angie’s List.

Yet Consmr has drawn participation so far, from regular shoppers to those seeking jobs or building traffic for their blogs.

Will it succeed? If Consmr is going to be more than a charitable enterprise, it must create a business for those contributing, including:

*Aggregating an audience to whom CPG ads, coupons and other offers can be presented
*Driving business to retailers, especially e-tailers, like Fresh Direct, Peapod, and Amazon Fresh
*Generating traffic for the blogs, services and other businesses run by the reviewers.

Carol Spieckerman
9 years 10 months ago

It would depend on how “Yelp-like” it was on mobile devices. I find Yelp’s iPhone app cumbersome and exhausting and, to Warren’s point, the tone of some of the commentary is as well. Of course, opportunity thrives where fragmentation is the rule and, particularly for higher-priced items such as the organic personal care items cited in the article, muddling through could be worth it.

Tony Orlando
9 years 10 months ago

I think it is fine for consumers to get a feel on a new product they might want to try, and it may spur sales for something really unique, which can create a positive buzz. Sampling of goods in-store is my way of getting instant feedback, and the new website is another way to search for new goods as well. Both ways work, but real world sampling in my opinion is critical for boosting sales on new products.

Liz Crawford
9 years 10 months ago

After the initial novelty wears off, I don’t think that there will be much demand for this service. The reason is that CPG products tend to be relatively low-risk, low-involvement categories. Higher-risk, higher-involvement categories like restaurants, hotels, plumbers, etc., are more likely to get the attention of a time-starved public.

However, I can think of a few categories where this may work–personal care, OTC and organic/local products. In these cases the involvement is higher and may warrant more research and reviews.

Matthew Keylock
Matthew Keylock
9 years 10 months ago
One of the challenges with interpreting feedback is understanding its context; that seems pretty hard to do here. Knowing what to do with this feedback will be tough for consumers and for businesses alike, at least in its current form. Maybe the power of something like this will come through relative scores between products once you have reached a certain threshold of feedback? For the business already struggling with too many sources of data, there’s a danger this adds more complexity. It threatens to be another data source that can provide the “insight” needed to support a predetermined direction a brand has chosen. Similarly, it’s possible some retailers could use it to support decisions around which products they list! CPGs and some retailers still need to find a way to get to a model where they have a single data engine that fuels consistent and granular insights that drive the right strategy and execution. This is easier for retailers than CPGs, but essential for both. At the moment there is an explosion of so many… Read more »
Jonathan Marek
9 years 10 months ago

With an added collaborative filtering element, I think this would be great. The supermarket is a big place, and I’m constantly searching for the next great product to try. Yes, trial is cheap, but I see this more as reducing the complexity of trying to figure out what to try next.

James Tenser
9 years 10 months ago

I can see how marketers might favor, as it could deliver a treasure trove of data. But I fail to understand why a user with any semblance of a life would choose to invest time and effort to share their opinions on such a site. If only losers need apply, then the question for marketers should be, “How well does this sample correlate with my target consumer?”

M. Jericho Banks PhD
M. Jericho Banks PhD
9 years 10 months ago

Full disclosure: Our family buys “Rooster Sauce” (Sriracha HOT Chili Sauce) by the case. It deserves five stars. Upon viewing that product’s image included in this discussion, my objectivity went out the window. I can see my objectivity from here, but I can’t quite reach it. There it is, skittering across the lawn. Nothing new.

I think I’m gonna’ love me some of this And 50,000 products is just a drop in the bucket. This could be huge, or as Trump pronounces it, “youuge.” I signed up today, and I’m full of opinions like everyone else. What a great place to share them! Try it. And, I hate kittens (you’ve got to sign up to get that one). Not sure I understand the “flair” thing yet, but I’ll figure it out.

Odonna Mathews
Odonna Mathews
9 years 10 months ago

Sharing consumer information and interactions on products seems to be gaining steam with many consumers. offers promise and a partnership with Rodale is a plus.


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