Have you ever heard of the term crowdsourcing? If not, you may not be aware of the term, but you are probably very familiar with the process behind the idea. With the emergence of social media and the reinvention of traditional marketing, marketers are turning to new practices to drive strategic brand development. One of these trendy marketing practices is called crowdsourcing. Crowdsourcing is the act of outsourcing tasks, traditionally performed by staff or a contractor, to a large group of people or crowd.

crowdsourcing market research syracuse ny

Developed by us, for us.

Some recent examples of crowdsourcing include the Chiquita banana brand asking consumers to submit design ideas for the stickers on its bananas.  Another example of crowdsourcing is Mountain Dew’s DEWmocracy campaign, which put consumers in charge of creating new beverage flavors, naming them, and developing packaging and ads to market them. Nothing like using consumers for a little pro bono work, right? You can either spend hundreds of thousands of dollars with an ad firm or have your neighbor Terry do it for free. Both of these ideas were immensely popular with more than 100,000 people submitting and voting on the preferred designs. So crowdsourcing’s point is – if you get enough Terry’s to submit designs, you’re sure to find at least a handful of good ones. So, to jump on the band wagon, for our next tracking study here in the Bunker, we plan on running a contest on who can write the best market research report for us, millions will enter, yet only one will win.  

Now obviously, your brand must already have considerable traction to implement a crowdsourcing type model. Your local coffee shop won’t get 100,000 votes when you ask them to design a new coffee flavor. You need to have major brand recognition for this to work.

This crowdsourcing concept in itself is nothing new. The idea of presenting a concept to a group of people and asking for feedback on improvements and design is not revolutionary as these branding gurus might claim it to be. I think it’s basically a glorified and more trendy label for market research. RMS had multiple focus groups here last week that were in theory – crowdsourcing – on a much smaller scale. Although the concepts were developed ahead of time, the process is virtually identical. We presented the concepts, asked for feedback, asked about thoughts on design, and even asked for a vote. The only difference is with most market research, concepts or ideas are already pre-designed by experts.  That’s really it.

Reasons why consumers enjoy participating in crowdsourcing and product development is simple. Consumers like being heard from regarding feedback on products they use. There is something about claiming ownership in a process or product development. So down the road when you see a product or concept that you were asked to provide feedback about, you can say “I helped invent that” or “I helped launch that.” Crowdsourcing capitalizes on that aspiration.

There’s no refuting that crowdsourcing is catching on with a lot of national and global brands. Although it may take market research firms out of the loop by having the company go directly to the consumer, I think crowdsourcing has a positive effect on the market research industry. It emphasizes how crucial feedback and research is to the new product development process. Whether you capture that data by using a viral crowdsourcing campaign or using an online survey, the key here is to always ask for feedback before launching a product to market.

This article is derived from Crowd Sourcing: Creativity 2.0 by John Miziolek in the Jan/Feb ’11 edition of Brand Packaging.