Learn about Masse a new shopping platform. It just so happens that now-business partners Elizabeth Shaffer and Lizzy Brockhoff became new mothers a day apart. The two first met at Moda Operandi (where Shaffer served as Director of Product and Brockhoff Product Manager) and worked together again starting up Jet.com. Eventually they would join the league of motherhood, and in doing so, tackle a whole new genre: baby products.
“We discovered the phenomenon of the baby list, which are these giant excel spreadsheets that moms send each other and their expecting friends, full of product recommendations,” Shaffer says. “They can be over 100 lines long with different subsections like ‘what you need for your nursery’ or ‘what you need for travel.’ And Lizzy and I just felt there’s got to be a better way to do this.”
Enter Masse, the app the pair co-founded—launching today—which harnesses the value of word of mouth in a digital, shoppable platform. On Masse you’ll find a variety of products, from night serums to colored glassware, and yes, baby accoutrements, which have been all recommended by users—individuals in your network who are uncompensated and completely un-incentivized (beyond their genuine appreciation for an item).
“We’ve seen a big rise of inauthentic content online. There’s a lot of tweets or posts from influencers. There’s a lot of sponsored content from brands, which is trying to disguise itself, but consumers are savvy and they know that they’re being sold,” says Shaffer. “We’re trying to create a community where users can share product recommendations with each other, totally free of paid content.”
So how exactly does the app work? Upon creating a profile, Masse users may ask for a recommendation. A current example includes, “I’m looking for an old school coffee machine, drip, not Nespresso. Any ideas?” Fellow Masse-mates can then respond with any item within the app’s catalogue of objects (there’s a full inventory from Jet, Glossier, Maisonette, Sephora) or go beyond and cull from the entire world wide web, accompanied with a personal review/recommendation. In this case, a Mr. Coffee Maker fit the bill. And afterwards, as Brockhoff explains, “it’s human nature to want to help out a user, a friend.” To put it in Instagram terms, it’s the like for like philosophy; those who have had their recommendations fulfilled are motivated to pay it forward.
“The experience has really been architected around this ask and answer exchange between friends. And this is really driven by Elizabeth and my insights and user research,” Brockhoff says. ”We noticed in a lot of the online groups where recommendations are being shared, that if there is a real question out there—whether it be from a community or your direct friends—people are really responding.”
For the Masse CEOs, Shaffer laughingly admits, “It’s definitely dangerous being the co-founders, I have found myself shopping a lot more.” For everyone else, it means finding a genuine review for that mascara they’ve seen touted on Instagram. Plus, as Shaffer explains, users feel a “real pride” in discovery. “They’ve put in the research, and they’ve done the work, and they really want to share it.” So in a sense, everyone’s an influencer on Masse. Only here, no one is making a career of it.