Blog 2

Calego a Shining Star for BazaarVoice

It’s not often that BazaarVoice shines a spotlight on one of its 10,000+ clients, which include the likes of Unilever, Bose, Target and Walmart.

That’s exactly what BazaarVoice did in its recent success story profiling Calego and the work it has done using the BazaarVoice platform to generate, syndicate and leverage ratings & reviews to launch and scale its portfolio of consumer brands.

Check out the full case study to learn how Calego is in a league of its own when it comes to gathering consumer-generated content.

Elevate your entire business

Gathering loads of ratings & reviews on a consistent basis will benefit much more than just sales. Marketing, branding and business goals become easier to attain as you leverage the power of your customers’ own words in your favour.

In February 2019, one of our retail partners was planning its in-store and online Black Friday luggage and travel goods program for Holiday 2020. We had been a trusted and high-performing brand-supplier for this retailer for a number of years, and yet we had never been part of their Black Friday holiday plans.

When we were asked to submit to their buying and management team our best holiday collection, our product and marketing teams met to discuss ideas. Ultimately, we decided to propose one of our best-selling collections in updated colours for the holiday feature.

As part of our submission, we reminded our retail partner that we had spent the last 2 years gathering ratings and reviews that we had syndicated to their online store. Because we had generated so many reviews and we’re leveraging the power of Google SEO to capture our ratings & review content, our retailer was ranked very high for searches related to our collection.

With so much shopping taking place online and with so many in-store shoppers comparing prices and researching products that they see on-shelf on their smartphones, retailers understand the importance of brands having rich content, especially consumer-generated content, on their online storefronts. The ROBO phenomenon is real (i.e. research online, buy offline), especially during holiday shopping.

Our ability to show our retail partner that the holiday collections we would launch with them would be immediately supported by large volumes of authentic 4.8-star rated reviews was a key factor in their decision to carry our assortment.

The launch was a massive success as we grew sales in a meaningful way, gained hundreds of thousands of new customers and expanded our brand into holiday features. The net impact on our entire business was huge as we landed a seven-figure program that elevated our business in ways we would not have been able to have we not harnessed the power of ratings & reviews.

Calego launches Calego Insights to Help Consumer Brands and Retailers Generate, Syndicate and Leverage Ratings & Reviews

After years of leveraging ratings & reviews to build its own brands, Calego is now sharing its insights and expertise

MONTREAL, Jan. 18, 2021 /PRNewswire/ – Today, Calego International Inc. announced the launch of Calego Insights, the intelligence arm of the longstanding consumer products company.

After 90 years of producing consumer products and distributing them to the world’s leading retailers, Calego has packaged its expertise into strategic advisory offerings for consumer brands and retailers operating in today’s fragmented and demanding omnichannel environment.

Its first offering helps brands that sell or want to sell their products to third-party retailers to generate, syndicate and leverage ratings & reviews.

Calego has years of experience doing exactly that across its own portfolio of proprietary, private label and licensed brands. Calego built its iFLY® travel goods brand from scratch using a strategy focused on wholesale fulfillment, retailer-partnership and consumer-generated content, namely ratings & reviews. Today, over 80% of all the ratings & reviews associated with luggage products on are generated and syndicated by Calego.

“We have spent years learning how customers interact with brands after purchasing their products from third-party retailers,” said David Rapps, President of Calego and Chief Strategist of Calego Insights. “As a wholesale brand, convincing end-consumers to engage with you and rate and review your products is very difficult, and yet that is where we excel.”

After having been asked by many brands and retailers for advice on how to elevate their ratings & reviews performance, Calego decided to deliver its methods and expertise in a proper offering.

Calego has identified meaningful white space at leading retailers, including Walmart, Target and others, where incumbent brands are leaving openings for lesser known brands to emerge due to shortfalls of syndicated ratings & reviews and consumer-generated content.

100% organic and consumer-generated

Shoppers aren’t fooled by ratings & reviews that are inorganic. Resorting to professionally written product reviews or ones that are incentivized cheapens your brand, leaves you vulnerable to competition and is unsustainable.

Many product, marketing and business leaders who operate brands that sell products to third-party retailers or through marketplaces simply don’t understand how to generate consistent and authentic customer reviews. Others simply don’t want to invest the time to implement systematic methods to generate ratings & reviews on a consistent basis.

So to satisfy their retailers, upper-management or ownership, they pay a company to seed their products to pre-qualified reviewers and wipes their hands clean. These leaders convince themselves that they have done their part in generating ratings & reviews when in fact their efforts end up having the opposite effect of what they intended.

Here we’ll explain why non-organic reviews cheapen your brand and value proportion, make you vulnerable to competitors and are unsustainable for your business.

1. Don’t cheapen your brand or hurt your value proposition

When you outsource reviews to a company paying or incentivizing people who aren’t your customers to review your product, you cheapen your brand. According to best practices and common sense, when you use this method you are supposed to indicate at the bottom of the review that the reviewer has been incentivized or paid in exchange of the review. The message this sends to shoppers that are interested in your product and brand is that that your brand is not popular enough to have customers that genuinely want to review your products. Even if those best practices are ignored, the tone and quality of the review will likely come off as stale. This is covered in our concept of authenticity, one of the 3 pillars of effective reviews covered here. Remember when you were young and you really wanted to hang out with a kid in your class, but that kid didn’t want to hang out with you. You would never have wanted your parent to incentivize or pay your classmate to hang out with you because that it would have felt forced and inauthentic. That’s the same dynamic at play when trying to convince sophisticated shoppers that your products are well-reviewed even though they’re not. Ultimately, it cheapens your brand and value proposition.

2. Don’t fall behind competitors

While you’re focused on essentially buying reviews, your competition is focused on organically generating them. While you’re temporarily plugging holes in your ratings & reviews performance, your competition is building their brand through consumer-generated content at a foundational level. You can’t get back that time.
Even worse, your competition is cleverly turning each of their customers into evangelists for their products and brand while you’re wasting away each converted customer by receiving nothing from them that will propel your brand forward. Each organic review you receive is not only free, it’s authentic marketing that stays with your products and brand for their lifetimes. When you miss out on the opportunity to capture your customers’ thoughts, you never get that time or content back.

Here is a useful analogy. In the early 2000s, Toys R Us the then-leaders in toys, gaming consoles and more made a strategic decision to not invest in ecommerce and outsourced its ecommerce fulfillment to Amazon. 15 years later, Toys R Us filed for bankruptcy, Amazon became the leader among toy retailers and other retailers picked up big market share.

What seemed convenient at the time for Toys R Us ended up being a major reason for its downfall. By not owning its own ecommerce operations, it emboldened competitors and became vulnerable to the changing times.

Generating your own ratings & reviews gives you independence as a brand since that is content you end up owning. It also gives you valuable insight written by actual customers for you to not only leverage to build sales, but also to rely on to improve and invent new products.

After having spent 5 years mastering how to gather and syndicate ratings & reviews and how to leverage them to transform our business, it is baffling why product, marketing and business leaders would choose to pay for essentially what amount to fake reviews and fake insight.

If you ever need to relaunch a collection at a new retailer or marketplace, or directly on your own channel, you can launch with loads of reviews that provide an immediate lift to sales and in many instances can be the reason why new retailers would want to include your products in their assortments.

3. Don’t build something unsustainable

When you build something that is unsustainable, you’ll always be throwing money at it to work. If your ratings & reviews strategy is built on paying for non-customers to write reviews, you will never gather the volume or reviews you need to stand out, nor will you ever generate the authentic reviews you need to make an impression on shoppers.

These pre-qualified review programs cost money, and depending on your product category, those costs will add up fast. Basically, to have a pre-qualified reviewer review your products, you need to pay an agency or firm that facilitates the product seeding. You need to pay for the product you’re giving away. And, you need to pay for shipping. If you sell expensive products, like toasters, tires, and jewelry and/or heavy or large products, like luggage, furniture or surfboards, these programs end up costing a fortune.

Even worse, you end up having to feed the beast. After a few weeks, the freshness of your reviews runs out and you need to revamp your reviews with newer ones to ensure that your recency, one of the three pillars of effective reviews that we cover here, remains high.

Gathering reviews that are 100% organic and consumer-generated is vital to the growth of your business and is completely achievable regardless of your industry, brand or product mix. All you need is the right strategy, method and tactics to execute properly.

Volume, authenticity and recency

Do your products enjoy volume, authenticity and recency when it comes to ratings & reviews? If not, you’re losing sales, diminishing your brand and ceding market share. Learn why we formulated the 3 pillars of effective ratings & reviews after spending years defining and refining our tactics and techniques.

Understanding the value of volume, authenticity and recency on your sales, brand, product development and overall business is crucial. Brands that don’t lose sales, give up market share, don’t iterate product quickly and accurately and miss out on business growth opportunities.

What are volume, authenticity and recency, and how do they influence shoppers at various points of their shopping journey? In this article we explain.

After spending the past 5 years laser-focused on becoming experts at gathering, syndicating and leveraging ratings & reviews to transform our business, we have created a system of principles that guide our methods and techniques. Three of the most important principles are intimately related and we have coined them the Three Pillars.

Volume, the first pillar: Volume is the sheer number of ratings associated with a product. The value of volume is captured at the collections page of product online. The collections page of a third-party retailer is where shoppers view your products next to those of your competitors. It is analogous to the shelf at a physical retail storefront.

When shoppers look at the shelf of a physical, they can compare different product attributes, including size, style, touch, smell, form, function dimensions, features and price. On a digital shelf, i.e. the collections page online, shoppers can compare slightly less. They can, however, compare the star ratings and review volumes associated with the products they’re browsing.

Of course, we know that having a high star rating associated with your product is important, so we won’t go into detail about that here. Instead, let’s discuss the importance of the number of ratings associated with your product.

If a shopper is browsing two products, and both have a 4.5-star rating, what will distinguish one from the other? The answer? The volume of ratings & reviews associated with the product.

The higher the volume, the more popular and trusted the product appears and we all know that shoppers feel more confident parting with their money when they’re buying a product that is popular and trusted.

Authenticity, the second pillar: Once shoppers select a product from the collections, they’re ready to understand the product in greater detail at the product details page. This is where shoppers add products to cart and begin the checkout process. The product details page is also where in-store shoppers visit when they see a product they like on-shelf and want to learn more about it by using their smartphone.

It’s important to have a product with high ratings and a high number of reviews. If that product, however, has reviews that appear inauthentic, shoppers will perceive that and lose trust in your product.

So how may reviews appear inauthentic? In a few different ways.

If too many reviews were written by “pre-qualified” reviewers in some sort of review program, the shopper will question whether the product was actually purchased and enjoyed by real shoppers or if it was just seeded to reviewers who were incentivized to leave a review.

Even if those reviews don’t have the “tag” that are supposed to be assigned to reviews that have been written by someone who is a pre-qualified reviewer or who was incentivized to write the review, shoppers can discern if a review isn’t authentic by the tone of the review.

Reviews that are very technical in nature and that lack human emotion through the use of exclamation marks, words and phrases of true passion like “love” and “Oh My Goodness!” phrases like “and unconventional uses of lower and upper case and misspelling, can give off the impression that they are inauthentic.

Consumer reviews are supposed to be … written by consumers. And because consumers are real people, their reviews are supposed to feel real. While it may be counter-intuitive, a review that says “You will not believe how many people stopped me to ask me where I got my shoes! I ABSOLUTELY love them” is more effective than a review that carefully explain the shoelaces and the in-step of the shoe.

One of the reasons for this is because first party content on the product page, i.e. the content a brand produces and displays, is meant to be descriptive and illuminate the product’s features fully for the shopper. Conversely, the customer review section is meant to capture the true feelings, emotions and experiences customers have had using the product. The more authentic the review sounds, the more comfortable the shopper will feel adding your product to their cart.

Recency, the third pillar: We know why volume and authenticity are important, but what is recency? Here’s a good way to understand the concept of recency.

Imagine a shopper was impressed by your product at the collections page, clicked through to the product page and was comfortable with how previous customers reviewed your product. Now imagine that the shopper sorted the reviews by date (which is something many shoppers do if the reviews aren’t sorted by chronologically already).

What do you think goes through the minds of shoppers if the latest review was left twelve weeks ago, six months ago or more than one year ago?

Shoppers look at the dates of reviews to gauge how frequently and how recently the product is being consumed. So even if your product has a high volume of reviews, if the latest review is old, shoppers may believe that your product has lost popularity and hasn’t been purchased in a long time.

What do you think goes through the minds of shoppers if out of 20 reviews, 12 of them were written within just a few days of each other? Shoppers have become highly sophisticated and many will deduce that there was an artificial blitz of some sort by the brand to generate reviews or perhaps the reviews were gathered inorganically. In the end, the timing of reviews matters to shoppers.

It is important for brands to have tactics and methods in place to gather lots of reviews from their customers in a way that is organic and frequent so that new shoppers recognize that your products are popular, that your customers are passionate and authentic in their reviews and that they are consistently buying your products.

We’ve done it and we can teach you

If you think that you need to tech talent, a marketing budget or influencer connections to build your business through ratings & reviews, you don’t. How do we know? Because we didn’t have any of those advantages—we didn’t even have a website—when we began our mission to gather ratings & reviews. Since then, we’ve built multiple multi-million-dollar brands, achieved national distribution across major retailers of scale and transformed our business by gathering and leveraging our customers very own words.

How many ratings & reviews did we have on our products in 2015? Zero. Fast-forward to today, we’ve gathered and syndicated over 250,000 ratings & reviews, built the #1 rated and reviewed wholesale travel brand, re-launched the #1 rated & reviewed wellness kit brand during Covid-19, earned prestigious awards and grew our business 20x. The best part … you can too..

In 2015, we had zero ratings and zero reviews on the products under our flagship travel brand that was sold exclusively at one third-party retailer. By 2020, we had generated and syndicated over 250,000 ratings & reviews, built the #1 rated and reviewed travel brand, launched the #1 rated & reviewed wellness kit brand, earned countless awards and grew our business 20x.

Calego Insights is the business intelligence arm of Calego International Inc., a privately held third-generation family business that was founded in 1931. Calego is not a private-equity backed company, nor does it rely on growth capital to accelerate particular aspects of our business. We’re telling you this because we want you to know that to build and execute your ratings & reviews strategy, you don’t need to be a major organization, have hundreds or even dozens of employees or have access to any special types of investment. All you need is a game plan and a set of tactics and methods, both of which we will help you build, and to then spend time and energy on refining and optimizing your system to gather what has become the most important form of consumer-generated content.

Since our founding, Calego has developed consumer products in a wide array of industries, including leather goods, back-to-school accessories, toys, travel goods and health & wellness products to name a few. We built these products under licensed brands, private label retail brands and our own proprietary brands. This is important because we have had success generating ratings & reviews for products whose licensed, private label and proprietary brands. We’ve written a separate piece that discusses in greater depth the importance of gathering ratings & reviews if you’re mainly a producer of licensed or private label products. We’ve also sold to hundreds of retailers. We’re mentioning our diverse product, brand and retailer history because our formula for generating ratings & reviews applies to all consumer products.

In the early 2000s, we created a backpack brand called iFLY. It was more of a label than a brand because we didn’t have a website, social media or any marketing. All we had were products that were sold on the shelves of third-party retailers.

In 2013, we earned a spot on the shelf of a major retailer to sell luggage and we used our iFLY label for our new luggage program. Still, at that time, we didn’t do any significant marketing or branding in iFLY. In 2015, David Rapps, who is now our President, decided to dedicate most of his time to gathering ratings & reviews for our iFLY luggage products. David worked diligently to create ways to capture ratings & reviews from end-customers that never transacted directly with Calego, since all of iFLY’s sales at that time were transacted at a third-party retailer.

After months of trying and testing various techniques, David implemented a set of systems that were beginning to work. Within that year, Calego had grown iFLY into the fastest-growing luggage brand that sold its products to third-party retailers. By then, the team had leveraged digital and social media tools to grow the brand further and Calego had leaned into product development to widen the product assortment.

Within the next few years, Calego won Walmart’s Supplier of the Year, earned the Great Brand honour from Consensus Advisors at the 8th Annual Great Brands Show and received meaningful write-ups by media where iFLY was named as one of the best luggage and travel goods brands. In January 2020, NPD Research named iFLY as one of the Top 5 Hottest Holiday Accessories Brands in a list that included Yves Saint Laurent, Tory Burch and Nike.

Because of its ability to gather consumer-generated content and drive it to retailers, Calego received more opportunities from retailers. Some of these opportunities included private label and licensing programs and Calego understood how to apply its ratings & reviews strategies and techniques to launch these programs with hundreds of reviews. Calego did this without ever paying or incentivizing any individual or company to rate a product or write a review.

In 2019, Calego launched the first-ever health & wellness travel kit and generated dozens of ratings & reviews. So, when the Covid-19 pandemic struck in 2020, Calego was able to syndicate its ratings and reviews to major retailers that wanted to carry its assortment of “smart kits” under iFLY’s sister brand, iFLYSmart. While so much PPE flooded the market from untrusted sources, Calego was selling its assortment of health kits that had already been vetted and approved by consumers across America who had left glowing testimonials about the products.

Since 2015, Calego worked to find ways to gather and leverage consumer-generated content in the form of ratings & reviews to grow its business, product assortment, brands and retailer base. With the acceleration of e-commerce and rapid growth of product discovery happening online, especially following the Covid-19 pandemic, it has become more important than ever to have a comprehensive ratings & reviews strategy to drive sales, build a brand and transform your business.

Rating: The 1st Pillar of an Effective Ratings & Reviews Strategy

Rating, the first pillar: Rating is the most straightforward of all four pillars. It reflects the actual overall rating your products receive from your customers.

The value of rating is found at the collections page and on the product page. At the collections page, shoppers are comparing your products against those of your competitors. At this stage, the star rating associated with your product lets shoppers know if their peers, your previous customers, enjoyed using your product. Because many online stores allow shoppers to filter by highest rating, it is crucial that your products are well-rated. Even from a glance, shoppers will determine whether your product has been well-received without even having to filter the collection.

At the product page, shoppers refer to your products’ star ratings to remind themselves how well-liked your products are. Many leading retailers have implemented guidelines where they will not accept your product listings if your products haven’t achieved at least a 4-star rating. Amazon famously launched small concept physical storefronts that only carried products with at least 4 stars.

Nailing this pillar is crucial for brands. And, it’s quite simple. Produce high-value products and watch your ratings soar. Your product doesn’t have to be the best. It simply must be the highest value offering. Just like brands look at an influencer’s “followers” as a short-form way to gauge their popularity, retailers look at “ratings” to do the same in respect of your products.

Stay tuned for latest blog posts of our next 3 pillars.