Crowdsourced customer preference testing, or the power of the “I like” button


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My dad owns and operates a very successful business in which they evaluate and review a variety of golf gear and publish the results both privately and publicly. Their firm, Rankmark ( has millions of visitors who seek the latest feedback about golf clubs and other products prior to making purchase decisions. The business, vis-a-vis the website has a loyal and frequent following and is well regarded in golf circles, carrying fairly significant consumer influence.

The testing Rankmark performs on golf clubs, for example, is generally done under strict supervision and involves several hundred testers of varying skill levels who hit balls with the clubs and share their qualitative feedback relative to their own experiences during the test. These results are then tabulated for preference leaders and reported and ranked accordingly, often segmented by golf skill level of the tester in terms of their handicap. This is entirely meant to help the user of Rankmark’s data find not only the best clubs, but the best clubs for someone of their skill level or age, for example.

Just imagine the power of what Rankmark could accomplish, however if they decided to leverage social media crowdsourced techniques as part of their evaluation process. Rather than limit testing to a few hundred testers, what if it was opened to the public to provide feedback using crowdsourcing techniques and through which, a variety of experiential golfer feedback could be captured, along with a simple vote using the now archetypical thumb-up and thumb-down voting or picking a favorite with a click on an “I like” link similar to those on other social sites such as Facebook or

It could be conceivable that by making the data collection process less directed and more open and observational the nature of the testing could grow to include unintended findings and discoveries that arose during the process. These discoveries could be validated across multiple reported incidents, not only corroborating findings but also shedding light on the prominence of the findings by way of frequency and the nature of the test or tester exposing the discovery.

The obvious single largest cost line-item Rankmark incurs is the cost of test administration. Just imagine if rather than own the full coordination of all testing the way it’s done currently, turning to a crowdsourced model would allow for a huge amount of feedback without the cost burden of running the tests themselves given the availability of golfers eager and ready to share their opinions socially. 

Rankmark could also extend the nature of its testing into the use of mathematics and statistics to predict which club, ball, or other golf gizmo will prove to be truly the best in class, providing additional objectivity to its already familiar and well thought of subjective tests. Prediction markets, for example are used by statisticians globally to predict presidential elections, movie opening box office sales, and even the value of new product launches well in advance of the first sale. Rankmark could not only gather a huge amount of valuable input data, but also through a variety of game play and simulated investment metaphors predict winners and losers in their own tests as well.

Think about the movie review website, Rotten Tomatoes, for example. One of its hallmarks is the RT score in which all movies are ranked on a 0-100 scale based on a mathematical formula derived from preference voting by site users. Rankmark, incorporating a similar capability could use a simple, “I like” and “I didn’t like” as a simple, binary yes/no, or good/bad “vote” from golf evaluators and in doing so, harness the wisdom of crowds in finding the world’s best golf gear.

Without a doubt, crowdsourcing customer preference is the new “panel” in a growing amount of market research as well. More and more companies are looking to leverage social media as a means of collecting preference data and cultivating rich, qualitative conversation with both fans and foes alike to find out more about each.

“I like” wields a tremendous amount of power these days across the web and with it, significant social responsibility.


Republished with author's permission from original post.

Marc Mandel
Marc Mandel is a Regional Sales Director at Allegiance, Inc.


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