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3 Retail Crowdsourcing Tips to Increase Participation

Retail Crowdsourcing Tips

More retailers are using crowdsourcing for product development or marketing. Retail crowdsourcing taps into the capabilities and resources of consumers to quickly raise capital or ideas for a single goal. Successful crowdsourcing campaigns have more access to innovation and expand their marketing reach beyond traditional methods, but it takes a well-executed plan to get results.

Here are three retail crowdsourcing tips to increase participation.

1. Use existing customers first.

Existing customers are needed to validate your crowdsourcing campaign before it hits the public and to gain initial support. Customers that already believe in your brand are more likely to generate buzz around the campaign and share your message with their social networks. Walmart’s “Get On The Shelf Contest” gave inventors and entrepreneurs the opportunity to pitch products to add to Walmart.com’s assortment. Participants promoted the crowdsourcing campaign to their families, friends, and social networks to receive votes, and generated massive brand impressions for the Walmart brand.

  • Notify existing customers about the campaign through channels they associate with your brand, such as newsletters or a social media feed.
  • Reward your customers’ loyalty by asking them for priority input—do they support the campaign? Do they have any suggestions?
  • Give customers reasons to promote the campaign to their social networks by implementing community voting.

2. Let participants know they matter.

In the same way that customers valued by retailers will have more brand loyalty, participants knowing that their opinions matter will have more investment in a crowdsourcing campaign. Made.com, a UK-based furniture retailer, uses designs submitted by visitors to their website and a community voting system to determine which pieces to manufacture. Macy’s created their “What makes America great” commercial using videos submitted by ordinary people. Regardless of what you’re crowdsourcing for, ensure that you let the customer dictate the blueprint.

  • Word your crowdsourcing campaign message to reflect shared values with the consumer.
  • Be prepared to reward the creativity of the crowd with monetary incentives or widespread recognition.
  • Feature finalists and honorable mentions on your website, and host a PR event in the winner’s community with your local retailer to demonstrate your gratitude.

3. Promote through PR communications to maximize audience reach.

When Loblaws launched their President’s Choice crowdsourcing campaign, they pitched it to the Food Network, where it was featured on “Recipe to Riches.” Each winning recipe was available at select Loblaw stores, giving customers the ability to taste test the product before voting for the final winner. Loblaws’ partnership broadened their campaign awareness through television while giving them more opportunities to interact with customers in-store.

  • Co-promote your brand through non-retail networks to elevate your crowdsourcing campaign beyond your typical audience.
  • Plan ahead—are there any platforms you’ll use to promote the launch of your crowdsourced product or service after the campaign? If so, why not start now?
  • Promote through brand influencers in your niche market.

Successful crowdsourcing campaigns are built on the intrinsic motivation of its participants. Instead of increasing participation by buying ad space or bombarding customers with emails, focus on using and rewarding your existing resources and build from there.


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