By Keri Algar

SYDNEY, NSW: Since July 2010, brand ratings company Canstar Blue has been promoting product and service excellence by asking consumers to measure their overall satisfaction with listed brands, as well as their satisfaction according to relevant sub-categories. Refrigerators and air conditioners, for example, have sub-categories including price, after sales service and noise.

‘By consumers, for consumers’ is the Canstar Blue tag line.

In less than a year the company has issued satisfaction verdicts for electronics retailers (Retravision took the cake), as well as products including refrigerators (Electrolux), dishwashers (Miele), air conditioners (Daikin), GPS navigators (TomTom), compact cameras (Panasonic and Canon tied), LCD TVs (Hisense) and plasma (Panasonic).

One of the first services to be measured by the company were electrical retailers. According to Steven Mickenbecker, head of research and product strategy at Canstar Blue, this is because the level of service consumers get at electrical retailers is a critical element that determines their choice of product.

Click here to sign up for our FREE daily newsletter

“It’s an area where the choice of retailer can actually help you with choice of product,” Mickenbecker told “When you look at the catalogue advertising that they’re doing, [we see that] mainly people are attracted to the retailer based on the judgement about the retailer as well as the judgement about the product.”

Canstar Blue’s website offers consumers a poll that asks which products or services they would like to see measured next, but there are also other steps in the process of determining what products and brands will be scrutinised in the future.

“There are two steps in the process. One: is it useful for consumers to see this? Is it the sort of product that most consumers use at some point and buy at some point and that there is enough uncertainty about to really be of interest.

“The second is, are the manufacturers interested in having their product rated. Now, we don’t ask the manufacturers we just go and do the research but it’s also of interest to us. A third thing: is it practical to do a rating in terms of the usage and how many consumers would have actually bought a product in the time frame.”

Canstar Blue uses market research agency Colmar Brunton to gather the information via the random sampling of 2,500 people who are representative of the community (in terms of sex, age and income) for each survey and has several guidelines to ensure viability such as determining when the product was purchased.

In most cases, the consumer needs to have acquired the product within two or three years.

“It’s only when people have been using a product in their own house that they can really make that judgement as to whether it is a product that works for them…we want that level of experience of use. We [also] need to make sure that there’s a reasonable level of currency about it; we don’t people who bought a product 5 or 10 years ago judging it.”

Of course, there are dissatisfied customers and while most surveys have found a positive level of satisfaction, some suppliers don’t always fare so well in specific sub-categories.

 Mickenbecker said that the feedback from suppliers has been positive, however, as at least they are receiving direct feedback from consumers.

“[It’s] generally very well received, I think people do value the third party endorsement when the third party is actually a large sample of consumers, I think certainly that suppliers value it.”