I can remember when Zagat’s brand was the premier brand for all things restaurant and dining. Now, it appears that Yelp, Google Places and maybe a few others have taken the lead for local restaurant reviews and eclipsed Zagat.
The reason why Zagat lost its steam (online) is because it failed to keep abreast of the quickly changing world of the online revolution of content.
Sure it’s books were great, 5 – 10 years ago. As the premiere authority for what to eat. But that light is diminishing.
With so many online reviews, for FREE, who is going to pay to read an online review at Zagat. Its strategy would have worked if more companies would not have entered this market and brought out for free (reviews) what Zagat has for a fee online.
Consumer Reports has an enviable position. It’s content, although not free, is still quite unique. It’s going to be very hard for another company to invest in the labs and reviews that Consumer Reports has. For now, they’re position is safe.
What about your brand?
Are you providing something that a competitor can easily duplicate and provide and erode your profit margin or revenue model. It is important that you stay in touch with what’s happening in your industry and in the online marketplace if you don’t want to get Yelped.
The New York Times writes “There is a huge degradation of your brand if you are not showing up on that first page of search results,” says Greg Sterling, an independent analyst who specializes in local content and advertising. “If you’re not there, you have to have a powerful, multifaceted alternative strategy, with public relations, advertising, a reality show or something.”
Zagat.com does come up on the first page of Google results for broader searches that don’t identify individual restaurants. But some members of the Zagat team still think the company may have fumbled its Web strategy.
“I’m not sure we got the pricing model exactly right, in terms of how much was in front of the pay wall, though we were very early in trying to figure it out,” says Mr. Ford, the Zagat investor and former director. “If more of the content had been free, it would have driven more trial and exposure.”
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