The Center for Data Innovation spoke with Diego Chorny, chief executive officer and co-founder of ShopAdvizor, a company based in Spain that develops a mobile app providing users detailed information and scores about consumer goods. Chorny discussed how the platform empowers consumers by helping them make informed decisions and allows retailers to adjust their offers.
A translation of this interview is available in French on ShopAdvizor’s website.
Eline Chivot: What inspired you to create ShopAdvizor, and what did you hope to achieve or change?
Diego Chorny: Since 2004 we have been working in 15 countries building collaborative programs, helping leading retailers and brands to conquer their consumers. We always had the philosophy of building projects that deliver benefits to consumers, retailers, and brands. In 2013, in France, we started a program that would let consumers try millions of products, especially new ones, in exchange for their feedback. Our project, born as a market research program, then turned into the biggest benchmarked database of consumer information for product launches, with lots of insights.
In this learning process, we became convinced that we could play an active role in empowering people to become conscious consumers and help them make better informed decisions—decisions based on transparent and reliable information.
We saw how in many industries the power of consumer opinions combined with technology and collaborative ecosystems (TripAdvisor, Uber, Airbnb, etc.) were changing forever the way we make decisions, and it was now up to us to take this element of empowerment to the consumer goods industry, where there was no independent community for sharing ratings and reviews.
Our vision is to become the world’s most trusted collaborative community for the consumer goods industry where, by giving power to the consumer voice and by giving access to transparent and reliable information, we would help people make better informed decisions that will make our planet a better place to live.
Chivot: What makes ShopAdvizor stand out from other applications that provide information on the health impact of products, such as Yuka?
Chorny: ShopAdvizor helps consumers find the right product based on other consumers’ opinions. We built the Nutri-score, showing nutrition facts and food allergens with alerts, as well as the composition of non-food products. At the heart of it, we show what people, just like you, are saying about the products. We have generated over 15 million reviews, and this asset is unique on the market.
As a user, if you are checking or looking for chocolate, we will show you some better options for various other chocolates, although ShopAdvizor flags to the user that chocolates are not that healthy. We push consumers to become more conscious of that, although we don’t believe we have the right to make them feel guilty if they choose to consume a category that is not healthy. We all deserve some little breaks.
ShopAdvizor is a collaborative community that interconnects people, retailers, and brands’ needs. We are part of the feedback economy, where brands and retailers pay for this feedback, which allows them to improve the products and services they produce for consumers. We place consumers at the center of every decision and every solution we provide, to empower the consumer voice. We are independent in terms of generating consumers feedback, which makes our service more objective. And this is reflected when you see our scores: These are 20 percent lower than the scores some products have in their own brand communities.
Chivot: Who is your target user, or those most likely to use your application, and how would they use the application?
Chorny: Seventy-five percent of our users are women, mostly between 25 and 55-year-old, the typical profile of a shopper. They use the application in grocery stores mainly, but in 2020 we will be launching functionalities to help in the shopping planning process, including with discount coupons and other interesting features.
Using the app in real-time at the store, people can scan the barcodes or do a manual search to find out all the information available about a product: Scores and reviews from other consumers which rank products by category, as well as the Nutri-score and allergens for food products. The interface is rather simple to use, while it does bring together widely-consumed products, from food to household items. Users can themselves give their opinion about the products they’ve bought, by attributing a grade from 0 to 5, and by writing up a review in their own words.
Chivot: What kind of data do you “feed” the system with?
Chorny: The unique data we have in the market include the consumer reviews and other feedback we generate in our ecosystem that make people feel useful, and make them feel “part of the brands’ life” as many consumers say. We also nurture the app with product data in collaboration with 1,000 manufacturers and external sources such as Alkemics, Open Food Facts, or GS1.
Each product is ranked based on the scores and reviews. With the Nutri-score, a product’s composition is available in more detail: Allergens, additives, calories, sugars, dietary fibers, fats, carbohydrates, proteins, etc. Scores range from “bad,” “acceptable,” “very good,” “excellent” (for instance with a score of 4.2).
Chivot: How do you expect that AI and other technologies will transform food consumption, production, and the food industry in general in the future?
Chorny: AI is transforming all of our industry. The drivers behind people’s shopping decisions vary from one category to another one. AI allows us to collect and process lots of our data, in this case matching the opinions of millions of people with those of similar consumers. Consumer reviews become more relevant and insightful when an AI system processes them and shows what people who make decisions similar to you, think about the products. This allows our community to give consumers more accurate recommendations, and brands and retailers get to better evaluate and adjust their strategies and campaigns, analyzing clients’ feedback during a product pre-launch phase or shelving. Data is also critical for stores to find better ways to build loyalty and brand awareness among customers, as that industry is competitive: There are so many different grocery stores, brick-and-mortar but increasingly online too, meaning customers can easily switch. Finally, such systems really are addressing consumer demands and expectations: People want their voice to be heard and their opinions to be taken into account by the brands they buy and use.