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Consumer Reports & Consumerist Help Shoppers Bite Back

IMB_ConsumerReportsAd One of the most visible effects of the social media revolution is the relative power that is now in the hands of an individual consumer when it comes to spreading a positive or negative experience with your brand to hundreds, thousands, and even millions of people. Shoppers have a voice and it is now far stronger than the occasional review on Amazon or comment on a blog post. As the new holiday shopping season descends in the US, at least one organization is starting the season with an open call to consumers to make their voices heard.

Today Consumer Reports placed a full page ad in the USA Today asking holiday shoppers to "bite back" against retail practices that they hate. In an announcement about the campaign, the Consumer Reports team shared the following stats from a survey run on the Consumerist (a popular blog that is now part of the "Consumer Reports family") about what consumers dislike the MOST:

  • 72% Stores that never open all of the checkout lanes
  • 68% Fake "sales". If something is always 20% off, it's not on sale
  • 67% Coupons that exclude almost everything in the store
  • 52% Pushing store credit cards at the register

As we head into this holiday season, watching out for your shoppers biting back isn't just a lesson for those of us who work in retail sales. Consumer opinion will continue to drive purchase, and this will take the form of everything from idle tweets to wall posts on a fan page. Listening to conversations about your brand, products and industry and participating in the conversation is consistent advice from those who "get" social media. This holiday season for many brands, it may be even more than good advice … it may be a necessary survival tactic.

  • Chris Plamann


    When I read your post on Consumer Reports and the fact that they are actively soliciting negative retail experiences from consumers, it reminded me of a negative experience… only not with any specific retailer, but rather Consumer Reports itself.

    Consumer Reports wields a considerable amount of power in the marketplace. Unfortunately, they are not always judicious in how they exercise that power. Take the OrbitBaby car seat example. Consumer Reports delivered a negative review of the car seat which OrbitBaby protested based on incorrect testing. OrbitBaby then went out and spent their own money to re-run the tests, this time correctly installing the seat. The test results showed the seat passing with above average results.

    So it might be advisable for Consumer Reports to think about diverting some of their ad spend (spending money soliciting gripes) to retesting products that might not have been tested correctly the first time around. Why should companies have to bear this burden?

    Full disclosure… I am an owner of an OrbitBaby car seat, but have no other affiliation with or interest in the company. I do, however, have an interest in fairness and the judicious use of marketplace influence.

    I agree that power to the individual consumer, through social media in particular, can be a great thing. But too often this takes a strictly negative, snarky perspective, as in the ad above. It would be nice to see some of the positive experiences consumers have had in addition to the complaints. Let me start that out by praising the good folks at OrbitBaby for a great product and excellent customer service.

  • josh duncan

    One of the major complaints you hear every year around this time is when a retailer advertises amazing deals for Black Friday but doesn’t stock any inventory.

    Next time 300 people wait in line overnight to get that insanely great deal only to find out the store only had one stock, I expect we are going to hear about it across the social media channels.

    Thanks for the post,


  • Wayne Attwell

    The consumer is enjoying and wielding unprecedented power across the world, especially in retail and FMCG. A new Zealand ice cream maker is feeling the pressure. Check out this article – link to

  • Tracy

    Perhaps this is a purely semantic point, but does the individual consumer really have that much greater power than before? Is it not really the case that the individual now has a greater opportunity to become part of a powerful collective voice?