My last blog post was all about the importance of culture on global marketing initiatives and this article about Coca-Cola actually fits nicely within that same theme. While this post won’t be about culture, it does act as a nice transition into the topic for today which, as the title suggests, is crowdsourcing.
AdAge published an article about an upcoming creative campaign that Coca-cola is going to launch in China. Now initially, Coke wanted to export a successful English campaign however they quickly realized that the simple expression, “Aaahhhh!” doesn’t translate quite as well into other languages. So, with their campaign now on hold, they decided against a traditional research methodology and went with the more modern-day approach of letting their customers come up with the idea for them. If you’re not familiar, this is really the essence of crowdsourcing – drawing on your customers for ideas and solutions to problems. In crowdsourcing, the customers, in this case likely members of the target audience native to China, are doing the majority of the ideating and eventually these rough user-generated ideas will become the basis for Coke’s new branded marketing efforts in China. Coke will of course reward the winner (or winners) of the project for their ideas before taking them and selling huge amounts of product.
Coke certainly isn’t the first to do this, a variety of different companies have used the technique to solve problems ranging from campaign ideas and core messages, product design challenges, innovation challenges, even as far as to develop new treatments for diseases in record time! There are so many benefits to crowdsourcing for almost any problem/solution scenario in business. Social media and new technology has made this an extremely efficient mode of research. Basically, all the company has to do is write a brief for what they need created or solved and let the people go! Participants can ideate, share, discuss and refine amongst themselves, adding a fun, competitive element to the process.
At the end of it all, the brand will get tons of highly personal, emotional ideas across a wide spectrum. They can look for themes or similarities and aggregate them into a refined idea or if it’s a campaign challenge like Coke’s, just use it all in a big consumer focused campaign. There’s less pressure on crafting the right message (outside of a little massaging) when it comes right out of the mouth of your customers and if you choose multiple submissions, it’s easy to create something that will resonate with multiple segments within your audience.
As I said earlier, there are more benefits than just some good ideas and not all of them are benefits that the brand receives. Crowdsourcing is a great way to build loyalty and vocal advocates in your customers. Giving them secret, inside information and allowing them to participate directly in the creation of a brand they love is a chance that doesn’t come around often. It makes people feel incredibly close and important to the brand. To make it even more impactful (and sometimes a little more organized) the brand can have representatives collaborating and engaging with participants so that it really feels like a team effort rather than just a competition. Despite that, the competitive element and the grand prize is important and can help amplify the experience, encouraging people to one-up each other and really work hard to create something unique and meaningful. And, to round out the whole experience in a positive way since there will likely only be a handful of winners, the brand could feature all entries on a microsite or via social media. This way, even losing participants get some face time…after all there are bound to be a lot of effective entries that still maintain the brand voice.
Though crowdsourcing isn’t new per se – it’s been around for a few years – not everyone is making use of it. Despite it’s benefits it can be a little scary bringing the public in on the process. Obviously it’s important to assess the situation and make sure everything is right for crowdsourcing but I think it’s a method worth trying. Research, even qualitative research is up to the interpretation of the brand team in the end but crowdsourcing can help keep things customer centric since the submissions are from the people themselves.
The Wikipedia page on crowdsourcing has some pretty good examples of successful cases if you want to learn a little more about how this can be used in practice. If you’re familiar, I encourage you to share your favorite crowdsourcing projects in the comments below!