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How Crowdsourcing Product Development Benefits Retailers

Retail Crowdsourcing

Crowdsourcing product development benefits retailers in many ways. While online funding platforms like Kickstarter pioneered the idea of helping start-ups raise capital by giving everyone in the world the opportunity to partially fund a new business idea, crowdsourcing has become a tool in many marketers’ arsenal used to strengthen customer relationships for both manufacturers and retailers.

North American Crowdsourcing Examples

In North America, brands have executed highly effective and viral crowdsourcing campaigns to support product development initiatives. These campaigns have used both social media and traditional marketing platforms to broaden the idea-searching net.

  • Pepsi Frito-Lay’s “Do Us A Flavour” campaign used Facebook, Twitter, and local media to give everyday Canadians a chance to suggest a new flavour of Lay’s potato chips. Their efforts garnered over 600,000 submissions over three and a half months, and generated more than enough brand awareness to boost sales.
  • Loblaws went one step further with its “Recipe to Riches” campaign. “Recipe to Riches” gave Canadians a chance to submit their recipe ideas for a new President’s Choice branded product, and integrated it with a Food Network Canada (later CBC) television show to showcase the finalists’ recipes.
  • Anheuser-Busch launched its crowdsourced Budweiser Black Crown brand in January, and promoted it during Super Bowl XLVII. The crowdsourcing initiative began as an experiment to challenge its U.S. brewmasters to develop a beer that was more attuned to craft beer tastes, but took on a life of its own after a sampling initiative called Project 12  gave Budweiser fans an opportunity to rate all the brewmasters’ creations.

International Crowdsourcing Examples

The global market also has many examples of companies who have successfully employed crowdsourcing to engage their customers and build their brand.

  • In the UK, grocery retail giant Tesco crowdsourced a new wine from flavor development to bottle and label design. Swiss retailer Migros even went so far as to develop a proprietary platform for crowdsourcing to gather product feedback and suggestions from its customers.
  • Xiaomi, one of the most popular smartphone brands in China, sold 7 million handsets in 2012, and is expected to double that sales figure in 2013. Xiaomi regularly asks their dedicated users to provide input for upgrade features to its operating system, with a new release issued every week based on this feedback.  According to CEO Lei Jun, their “secret to success is that Xiaomi is not selling a product, but an opportunity to participate.”

Our Crowdsourcing Experience

Retail Category Consultants 99 Designs

Retail Category Consultants’ updated company logo was sourced from 99 Designs, a website that crowdsources design ideas for corporate and creative use through week-long competitions. Winners are chosen based on quality and response to feedback, with the prize money going to the top design in a pool of ten to several hundred. Although we submitted a blueprint of how we wanted the logo to look, the winning design built on this blueprint and did a better job of bringing out our company’s brand personality.

This is more than just power to the people.

Crowdsourcing fulfills what today’s wired consumer wants: participation, interaction, engagement and a voice above the noise.  Certainly, crowdsourcing has its downfalls.  Putting power into the wrong consumers’ hands can kill a brand.  But when effectively moderated, a crowdsourcing initiative for developing new product ideas can wield significant benefits:

Crowdsourcing strengthens customer engagement.

Crowdsourcing strengthens customer engagement and increases the likelihood of customers becoming loyal brand ambassadors.  By involving your customer in the product development cycle, you are opening up a dialogue that improves buy-in through participation and recognition.

Real-time feedback from a large sample size.

Many crowdsourcing platforms provide a forum for you to provide instant feedback to the participants and receive improved ideas, which significantly decreases the product development cycle. This improved speed-to-market will give you an edge over your competitors that may take months to release a product.

Competition means better quality of ideas.

In crowdsourcing’s case, quantity does mean quality. Getting feedback quickly from a panel of 10,000 (or more) participants vying for the coveted number one spot instead of a panel of 10 R&D principals will give you more (and better) alternatives to consider. With a larger test sample, you’ll have greater confidence in the results and a greater chance of sales success.

Great publicity for your brand.

Whether your media impressions are from viral online sharing, or from traditional media coverage in print or broadcast, the noise generated from a campaign that is open to all Joe Average is press worth fighting for, and all the more reason to do it right!

A crowdsourcing product development initiative – when planned and implemented effectively – can deliver significant intangible benefits to your brand and business while driving sales to your bottom line. Crowdsourcing ensures that the ideas you aren’t looking for get winnowed out from the ones that will meet and exceed your criteria.


To learn more about how we can help your retail business achieve success, visit our retail services page or contact us for further information.