The Home Tester Club, a social community review and ratings site born in South Africa and being exported internationally by the Buchanan Group, has signed up its 25th thousand member in South Africa, showing growth of more than 200% over the past eight months. The rapid growth has doubled the size of this social community over the past six months.
The Buchanan Group, known for its retail marketing tools such as Brand Power, Zoot Review and Medifacts, launched The Home Tester Club (http://www.hometesterclub.com) just over a year ago in a bid to allow FMCG retail brands to tap into the power of social media and the subsequent rise in the importance of online and web-influenced offline sales, which already accounts for 42% of total retail sales in the US. The Home Tester Club allows consumers access to a platform where they can rate and review new FMCG products on a safe, trusted and uncensored platform.
Building a community of interest around product reviews and shared shopping advice was the brainchild of Buchanan’s South African operation headed by Buchanan Group Africa, India and Middle East CEO Steve Cragg. The social platform has since been exported to India with plans afoot to roll it out into various international markets.
New FMCG products brands can use the network to distribute samples to The Home Tester Club community members who not only rate and review the product but also serve as brand advocates by handing out product samples to friends, family and neighbours.
The reviews and ratings posted on the Club allows fellow shoppers access to unbiased opinion and recommendations on new products and also serves marketers with consumer insights outside formal focus groups, while gaining unforced traction through word-of mouth in the social media space for brands who ultimately can also choose to these use consumer recommendations in its marketing communications.
“Clients are starting to see the value in what the club and specifically the Word of Mouth Advocacy has to offer,” says Cragg. “To date we have run Word of Mouth Advocacy Sampling campaigns for Unilever, Nestle, Kraft and Pioneer Foods and more brands are signing up.”
One such campaign, for Comfort Fabric Conditioner, saw 833 club members receive 10 000 samples to use and review as well as to distribute to their personal networks. A special Facebook site was set up and linked to a travel prize where consumers receiving samples were directed to and asked to share their experiences. Within four weeks the page received over ten thousand ‘Likes,’ reached 54 655 consumers virally and served up 982 158 page impressions. The cherry on top was that 75% of HTC trialists surveyed had bought new Comfort Fabric Conditioner after it had been passed on to them to try.
Ultimately the Club will expand beyond the internet and onto mobile devices for use in the actual retail environment taking the community much closer to the actual transaction. Quick Response (QR) codes will allow club members to view new product ratings at the point-of-purchase and then decide whether it’s worthwhile or not.
The Home Tester Club in India is also growing rapidly with over 10 000 members signed up onto the platform and 17 000 fans on its Facebook page.
For more information log onto www.hometesterclub.com or contact Craig Melling-Williams on 021 424 2310.