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GoodGuide Gets Social With Community Ratings, Product Recommendations

GoodGuide, a website and iPhone app that offers environmental and ethical information on thousands of household products, just got a major upgrade. The three year-old service has long offered information for consumers who want to dig deeper on, say, the environmental impact of Burt's Bees shampoo or Safeway Dishwashing Detergent. But now GoodGuide has added a key component to its site: community interaction.

"People want the science, and people want to know that people like me like this product," says Dara O'Rourke, the founder of GoodGuide. So the startup has added profile pages, an influence score (users get a higher score for rating brands on the site), a section that shows which products are recommended or avoided by friends, and a trending topics section (trending ingredients, trending issues, trending brands) that keeps track of what users are searching for.

The trending ingredients section could be useful for corporations, O'Rourke explains, because it points to controversial product ingredients. For example, para-dichlorobenzene—a toxic ingredient found in pest control products, air fresheners, and household cleaners—is trending. "It's turning marketing on its head," says O'Rourke. "Consumers send the signal to the market."

Perhaps the most mesmerizing new feature on the GoodGuide home page is the continuous stream of products being looked up by users on their iPhones. This is possible because the GoodGuide app, which has been downloaded by 400,000 people features a barcode scanner. It's a peek into the mind of concerned shoppers everywhere.

 GoodGuide has come a long way from its first iteration, which consisted of 600 raw data points without any sort of rating system. And the site isn't done growing yet. In addition to adding a number of new product categories (pet food, electronics, and apparel to name a few), GoodGuide is also toying with the idea of offering coupons for top-rated brands—and it's developing tools for brands and retailers. And yes, O'Rourke says, the company is working on an Android app.


Ariel Schwartz can be reached on Twitter or by email.