Innovation That Matters

Your very own focus group: personal image appraisals tell it like it is

Work & Lifestyle

Offline and online, consumers are ever more adept at presenting their public image or, as Tom Peters put it, crafting The Brand Called You. While they can carefully control the clothes they wear, the brands they use, the photos they upload to Flickr and the witty repartees they Twitter, it’s more difficult to judge whether the image they’re trying to project is really what others see. Friends, family and online pals aren’t objective enough, so who can they turn to for an honest image appraisal? German consumers can now upload a few pictures to, and have impartial strangers evaluate their appearance, solving dilemmas like: “My wife says I look boring, I think I look professional and modern.” “My boss says I come across as cool and distant. I think I look reliable and friendly.” “Does my long, red hair look good on me, or would I look better with a short, blond cut?” The website points out that just as brands routinely use focus groups to test a product’s image and appeal, anyone can benefit from an honest appraisal by a crowd of strangers. offers a variety of test options. Every month, it offers one free trial question. Users can upload their photo and have 30 people answer a question. This month, it’s “Do I look naive?”, and next month they can enlist strangers to answer the all-important “Do I look intelligent?” Those willing to pay for the service can choose from a Basic Check (EUR 25 for 50 image testers answering 10 standard questions), an Optimal Check (EUR 49 for 50 testers answering 20 questions that the customer selects from a database), and a Business Check (EUR 490 for 1,000 testers answering questions defined by the customer). Once the pre-selected number of testers have responded, clients can log on to for a full report. To ensure a good mix of ages and well-balanced male/female ratio, the company asks its (German) testers for personal details when they sign up. And since the results are only visible to clients, the appraisals are private and don’t turn into “hot or not” contests, which would likely be the case in a more open and transparent set-up. is currently German-only, but the concept is ripe for international expansion! Spotted by: Susanna Haynie



Download PDF