How to Effectively Vet and Rank Epoxy Resin Brands
Around a week ago I was having a conversation about the epoxy resin market and how pop-up brands are flooding it. These brands have great prices, positive reviews and scores of customers proudly posting projects on social platforms. On the surface everything looks good! Those brands with positive feedback and low prices seem to be the best option to lower the bottom line. Shoot, you may have some left over for the next project... increase dem' profits baby! It's win win, right!? We shall see.
So let's say you buy a bargain resin, based off a ton of positive reviews on Amazon. Those reviews are probably legit right? Amazon has to have some measures in place that will mitigate any misinformation right? I'd like to think so... but... Think about this cautionary tale.
A guy in London submitted the garden shed he was living in, as an upscale restaurant on TripAdvisor. He reached out to all his friends and had them write fake reviews until one day he was literally ranked #1, becoming top spot to dine in London. The whole experiment was fake, he had a pre-paid burner phone so people could call, setup a fake website and took pictures of a dish washer tablet covered in shaving cream sprinkled with pepper, another picture was an egg sitting on his foot garnished with parsley. People read the reviews and would call to get reservations. He would tell them they were booked out for weeks or months, adding even more hype to it! Now that guy travels around doing motivational speeches about bullshitting your way to the top, not exactly, it's more about taking an idea and going all in. He also just published a tiny book chronicling the process, it's actually a good read! Crazy right?! Makes you re-think reviews a bit?!
So when you look at my reviews, reviews on Amazon or really any review in general, educate yourself on the topic, research the brand, competing brands and their products, talk to people that have used it. Look at the good, fair and bad reviews. See if you can determine why they were ranked that way. Make a checklist of what you want to see in a brand and in the product then start grading.
Lets start from scratch, here Is how I did the initial vetting of each brand after stumbling upon them
How to Effectively Vet an Epoxy Resin Brand
- Google the Brand Name
You should be able to find the brand website within the first couple results. If you can't find a website.... proceed to the next brand.
- Look for a "Contact Us" link on the website
See if they have an email address, phone numbers, physical address (google map it and do street view if possible) You can dig deeper if things don't add up, check if the area code is actually in that area. Most companies have landlines or a VoIP phone service, if you want to figure out if its a burner phone, just send a txt saying "hey" if you don't get a message back saying it's a landline, it's probably a cell.
- Dig deeper and see if they publish a 24-hour Safety Phone Number, Technical Support Number and a Customer Service Number
Some top brands will have all three, but the majority are small businesses and don't have a large staff to handle that so it may be just one number.
- See if they publish Safety Data Sheets (SDS) on each of their resins
This for me is key, if you can't find a SDS, email them asking to provide one. Resin can be very nasty stuff which can cause some serious health issues if handled improperly. If the brand can't furnish a SDS have them explain why. So what is a SDS or MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet)? Here is an excerpt from OHSA
"A SDS includes information such as the properties of each chemical; the physical, health, and environmental health hazards; protective measures; and safety precautions for handling, storing, and transporting the chemical To learn more check out the OHSA Guidelines https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3514.html "
- Check for any sort of educational resources
I always look at the FAQ's, see what in-house projects they have and then see if they have published directions or instructions. Check the questions on Amazon, see if they are peer answered or answered by the seller. Try to locate technical details like, pot-life | working-time, cure-time, de-mold time, mix ratio, depth of pour ect.
- Browse their social accounts
See if they are creating in-house content or if it's composed of all repost work from customers. I like to see a 20/80 mix. You can't expect a brand to pump out content everyday but 20% is reasonable. If it's all repost content ask why. See if you recognize anyone who follows them, you can go a step further and open the posts, find out who the owner is then locate the original post and see if they tagged that brand in some fashion. I found a brand which posted a slideshow of river tables on their website, one image had a hashtag watermark of a different brand. They didn't state any of the tables were from their product but it was literally the first thing you saw on their homepage. Also, don't hesitate to direct message the maker and ask them about the product they used. As a content creator, when I tag a brand I expect to be asked questions as do many of my peers.
How to Rank a Brand
Here is a sample of some the criteria I use to rank the brands. I break the results down into binary, 1 and 0's, making them incrementals or detractors. In many instances overlapping metrics complicate the rank tally but it is the only fair method I can think of that maintains an unbiased approach.
- Does the brand offer a complete product line?
- Does the brand offer limited resin options but sells accessories, ie pigments, glues, mold making supplies ect.
- Can you buy everything you need from them for your project?
- Can you determine if it's a product produced in-house or a white label brand (white label refers to a product produced by one company and packaged to appear to be from another that markets and distributes it as their own)
- Do they offer multiple size options?
- Is there a significant discount if you order in volume?
- What is the cost compared to similar brands?
- Are prices consistent across multiple platforms.
- Is shipping free?
- Do they produce in-house content?
- Have they published very detailed how-to's, projects and video content explaining the product usage in great length?
- Is the SDS published?
- Are technical details like pot-life, depth of pour published in a data sheet or somewhere easily accessible on the site?
- Did they answer inquires on the Amazon product Q&A's with good explanations?
- Do they have GHS on the label or shipping package? (Globally Harmonized System - Pictographs indicating any hazards)
- Is the address, website, phone numbers, usage directions also on the label?
- Do they have a website?
- What social media channels do they have?
- Are they active on social media?
- Do they have influencers, brand ambassadors and users expressing brand loyalty?
- Do they have published coupon codes?
- Do they have sales and incentives?
- Is their product available in many online marketplaces?
- Do they have a newsletter?
- Do they respond to email inquires?
- Are there multiple means to contact them?
- Do they respond to social messages and comments?
- Do they have a 24 hour 1800 number for safety issues?
- Do they ship with the proper labeling (hazmat, correcive chemical labeling)
- Do they have dedicated technical support?
- Do they have a research and development group?
- Do they have a refund or return policy?