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ENG 102: English Composition II (Ms. McHenry): Unit 3: Product Evaluation

A modification of the English COMP II guide, this guide has been tailored specifically for Linda McHenry's students to account for specific assignments. Additionally, this guide includes research tips and resources for Composition II students. Recommende

How to Research a Product

Although coffee is being evaluated in this example, the criteria and sources listed are useful for evaluating many products.

Laughing coffee cup photo by Javier Benek via Flickr

Possible criteria on which to evaluate your product:

  • Price
  • Reliability
  • Quality
  • Appearance/Design
  • Availability
  • Made in America?
  • Fair Trade
  • Ease of use
  • Ratings or Awards from Consumer Reports or similar sources
  • Any negative press such as health effects, injuries, etc.
  • Political views of company (Do you want to give your money to a company that supports things you disagree with?)
  • Comparisons with similar products
  • Reputation of company
  • Green: what is this product's effect on the environment?
  • Societal Impact: how does this product impact society? How does the company treat its workers?


Photo: "Coffee LOL" by Javier Benek is licensed under CC BY NC SA 2.0

Consumer Search Website: This web site collects product reviews from around the web, analyzes them and makes recommendations.

Good Housekeeping Seal  "The seal is an emblem of the magazine's Consumer Policy, which promises a refund or replacement for defective products within two years of purchase."   

Once a product has earned the Good Housekeeping Seal, and then meets environmental performance requirements, it can earn the Good Housekeeping Green Seal.  Reduction of water use  & energy efficiency in manufacturing, ingredient and product safety, packaging reduction, and the brand's corporate social responsibility are among the factors considered. ~GH website

Better Business Bureau: You can search the BBB site for a business to find out if it has been rated by the bureau, has had complaints lodged against it, and how those complaints were handled. They also report scams and provide consumer education.

Use these databases to research products, companies & industries.  You can also research consumer behavior; think of your target audience, such a college students, and find out what types of shopping interests and behaviors they tend to display.  Business Source Premier database has articles from both the Journal of Consumer Research and the Journal of Consumer Behavior.

We all have a choice: Fair or Not?Fair Trade Issues: "Fair Trade is a comprehensive approach to sustainable development that supports farmers with quality improvement, environmental stewardship, business capacity training, access to credit, and community development funds to help improve lives. "~ Fair Trade USA website

Fair Trade USA Website: "A 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization, Fair Trade USA is the leading third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in the United States. We enable you, the consumer, to make a difference with your dollar." 

Fair Trade USA's Coffee Report.

World Fair Trade Organization: Membership of the WFTO is limited to organizations that demonstrate a 100% Fair Trade commitment and apply its 10 Principles of Fair Trade.  WFTO Members are not just the pioneers of the movement but the innovators of the market. The WFTO has a vision of a world in which trade structures and practices have been transformed to work in favour of the poor and promote sustainable development and justice. 

Additional Sources for Specific Types of Products

Note: Consumer Reports also covers cars & trucks

cartoon car

Note: Consumer Reports also covers electronics.