Kiosk-Based Consumer Reports Ratings to Aid Consumers In-Store

Dec 02, 2004

By Stuart Silverman

How many times have you gone to a store to buy a printer, a camera, a TV or some other appliance and ended up being mystified at the range of choices, capabilities and prices?
And how many times have you walked away cursing yourself at not having done your Internet research before going to the store?

Consumer Reports and Active Decisions are now making that product research capability available right in-store for Target and A&B Sound customers. At kiosks located
in the aisles, consumers will have the ability to access both buying guides and ratings guides for the products the retailer carries.

It seems that the retailer still gets to decide which Consumer Reports items are reported, which inserts a degree of bias in the decision process. But it also puts a good
deal of pressure on the retailers to carry highly rated items in their stores.

Moderator’s Comment: Will Consumer Reports’ reputation for uninfluenced ratings hold up in this environment?

If this program can transfer some of Consumer Reports’ credibility for unbiased research onto the retailers who subscribe to this program, then they
will gain a strong competitive differentiation against price-oriented competitors in that market. On the other hand, if it appears that Consumer Reports has “sold out”
by pandering to the retailers’ merchandising and assortment decisions, then Consumer Reports will be a big loser.

Assuming this can work, I think that this is a great idea. Over time, I would expect that more retailers will be forced to offer in-store web-based research
capabilities. And as consumers have a better appreciation of product value at the point of purchase, it will force merchandisers to be much more accountable for their pricing
and assortment decisions.

Stuart Silverman – Moderator

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