We first wrote about Consmr this past January in our list of 11 New York City Startups To Watch in 2011. I’ve spent 6 months waiting for the site to launch, thinking about it every time I realize how much I hate the smell of Pantene Pro-V or how much I love a new organic dish soap. In fact, by the time I get to work in the morning I’ve used over 20 different products that I could’ve rated on Consmr.
Today, Consmr, the brainchild of entrepreneurs Ryan Charles and Noah Zitsman, launches in beta. To put it simply, Consmr is like Yelp for all consumer packaged goods. While there are hundreds of review sites for movies, restaurants, electronics, video games, etc, there are no definitive go-to sites for reviews of everything else; in fact it remains one of the few categories lacking a online social platform. Until now. Consmr is a resource for reviews and social sharing on the products you typically find at a grocery store or drug store – from beverages to frozen foods to skin care.
“While many industries such as movies and restaurants have go to destinations on the Web, consumer packaged goods lack a ubiquitous resource” said Consmr co-founder and CEO Ryan Charles. “We provide a forum to share opinions, assist with the trial and error shopping process, and promote product discovery through friends and community.”
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Users are encouraged to write reviews as well as “check-in” to products they’re currently using in the same way that people are checking into TV shows, books, and movies. If checking into consumer packaged goods sounds odd to you, Consmr’s Ryan Charles explains why he’s given users that option: “We see people using the checkin as a way of sharing what you’re currently doing or using. It’s about putting context around an activity. Say you’re working late and you check into Red Bull. You’re doing that to say, ‘Hey, I’m working so hard that I’m drinking Red Bull.’ It adds a Foursquare element that allows users to broadcast their activities.”
Reviews and check-ins are broadcast to Facebook and Twitter so your friends outside of Consmr can comment on the Four Loko you just scored, or ask about your hot date since you checked into a bright red lipstick. Just like Twitter, you can follow other users to see their Consmr activity.
People with the most reviews in a category (e.g. Make-Up) become category experts and are suggested users at the top of category searches. Some of Consmr’s users are prolific product bloggers who have their own individual blogs reviewing products from ice cream to hot sauces to makeup. Top users get admin privileges, swag, and some cool things forthcoming, according to Charles. Consmr even applies a bit of game theory, giving users the opportunity to unlock badges for writing high quality reviews in a category. Secret badges include the “Rick James” and the “Robot Leader.”
Consmr’s launch partners include brands such as health publisher Rodale, greek yogurt maker Chobani and AriZona Beverage Company. Publication sponsors include both Men’s Health and Women’s Health, who will be providing health tips to Consmr users. The partnerships work similarly to Foursquare. User contributions are rewarded through virtual badges known as “flair.” The combination of badges and shared activity presents an opportunity for brands to engage in a new form of social media. AriZona Beverage Company and Chobani / Agro Farma will be providing unique badges when users check-in to their products. So a user who checks into every flavor of Chobani yogurt, will receive a Chobani badge.
“Partnering with Consmr was a no-brainer for us,” said Emily Schildt, Communications Manager at Chobani. “Our communications focus is simple: be honest, fun, and most importantly, accessible. This network provides yet another great way for us to interact with our consumers, and form a community relationship.”
In summation, Consmr is building a massive database by encouraging social conversation around consumer packaged goods. CEO and co-founder Ryan Charles was previously head of Zagat mobile and produced two of the all-time bestselling iPhone and iPad apps as well as forged some of the earliest brand partnerships with social media darlings Foursquare and Foodspotting. While Consmr is currently bootstrapped, it will monetize through coupons, affiliate links, CPG brand partnerships and advertising. It will also open its API in the future so developers and third parties can tap into Consmr’s data. And a very promising sounding mobile app is in the works. (Think image capture.)
Sign up is simple and allows you to follow people like you as well as connect your Facebook and Twitter networks. Interested in joining the grocery store party? Click here.