Although the term crowdsourcing is relatively new – it was reportedly coined by Wired magazine’s Jeff Howe in 2006 – the wisdom of crowds theory has been around for centuries and is commonly utilised by businesses keen to involve their consumers in key business decisions.
Whereas previously an organisation’s outreach might have been limited by a number of factors, the advent of the internet has meant that people can quickly and easily respond to requests for their input from anywhere on the globe.
What does crowdsourcing entail?
There are a number of different ways companies can look to obtain and utilise the opinions of the wider public. Whereas a firm may have a team of staff designated with the task of coming up with new ideas for products or advertising campaigns, they may choose to outsource this activity to the public through the use of surveys or focus groups.
Surveys can be completed online and while this may provide a significant advantage to some organisations in allowing them to access the thoughts of people from further afield than the local area, it may not be of use to businesses who offer a service or product specific to a geographical area.
Focus groups provide a viable alternative to questionnaires or polls in that they are more likely to produce accurate data because the respondents have taken the time and made the commitment to attend. However, it can be difficult to encourage people to come along to focus groups and so it may be a good idea to offer promotional gifts as an incentive.
Alternatively, advertising campaigns can utilise crowdsourcing by inviting members of the public to offer feedback or vote on certain decisions. The most successful examples of this have been where people have been presented with several different options and asked to vote on their favourite. When this is a choice between products, not only is it likely that sales will increase, but consumers commonly become fiercely defensive of their decision and may well take to social media to encourage others to vote in the same way.
Does it work?
When it launched its ‘Do Us A Flavour’ campaign in July 2008, crisp producer Walkers expected to receive 250,000 entries. The company asked members of the public to design a new flavour to be added to its range for a limited time and more than 1.1 million people entered.
Although Walkers also ran television adverts to support the campaign, the PR value achieved – estimated by UTalkMarketing as £4.6 million – represents a significant return on the £50,000 prize offered for the winning flavour. In addition, the company reported a 14 per cent year-on-year increase in sales.
Nestle is another firm that has found crowdsourcing to be particularly successful in the past, with its first Kit Kat Chunky advertising push becoming the “biggest confectionery single event” to occur in the UK and Ireland, according to a spokeswoman interviewed by Marketing Week.
The Kit Kat campaign’s haul of 600,000 Facebook votes and 11 million bars sold show how successful it was, with the company describing it as “hugely impressive”. In addition, Nestle said this triumph was something they look forward to replicating in the future.
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