The past few years have given us no shortage of debacles by brands. We’ve just about seen it all from an outright offensive campaign by Gucci that featured blackface, to an epic fumble by Pepsi during its campaign with Kendall Jenner.
Now, D.C. -based startup Gauge wants to make it so that brands don’t make these mistakes and are more strategic in their decision-making.
Here’s how it works: Gauge uses focus groups to help companies make decisions and gives surveys to “tastemakers” and industry experts. Surveyees can download the app and are compensated with gift cards and cash for every questionnaire they complete. Users sign non-disclosure agreements and can complete text, video or audio surveys that help guide brands from across the country.
The company uses artificial intelligence to analyze survey responses, providing its clients with detailed insight on the possible impact of their decisions.
“With technology, we could create a better, cheaper and faster way for brands to engage with diverse consumers,” Gauge Co-Founder Brandon Andrews told AfroTech.
Andrews said that brands should not rely solely on consultants to understand audiences and that it is sometimes better to ask questions directly to target groups.
“It can be incredibly risky for them[companies] to be making decisions just based off a consultant,” Andrews said.
Andrews met his co-founder Joshua DuBois when the two worked at Values Partnerships, a firm that works with foundations, non-profits, and religious leaders to tackle the intersections of race, politics, media, and faith.
Andrews and DuBois then teamed up with data and analytics expert Alfred Dunn to create Gauge.
Companies are given a series of data points to survey users from which they can include gender, race, age, general location, sexual orientation and more. Andrews said that user information is securely stored, and companies do not have access to sensitive information like names and addresses.
At SXSW, Google even used Gauge during the Titan Generator Hackathon in its Austin office to get live feedback from attendees. The Titan Generator is a micro-accelerator that helps minority startup founders.
In January, Gauge launched its #NoBadAds Campaign to highlight how the app stops brands from making avoidable mistakes ahead of Super Bowl weekend.
Andrews said companies “make these big mistakes and lose millions of dollars in market value by making an ad, product or service that is offensive to a group of consumers.”
Gauge is currently available in the App Store, Google Play and on desktops.