From review sites and rating systems, to social sharing and shared economies, crowdsourcing for ideas and services has become our new way of life. So it’s no surprise that brands have taken a cue from this shift as well. Deutsch’s North American chief creative officer recently said, “We need to acknowledge that the general public is almost more creative than the creative industry.”
And so, the best brands are turning not only to their creative directors but also to mass populations to influence their strategy.
Here are some ways brands are harnessing the power of crowdsourcing:
Let Consumers Source Your Content
We’ve lived in the age of social media long enough to know this truth: people want to share. Brands are simply providing the space for consumers to do just that. Brands who have won by leveraging user-generated content include Sephora, with their Beauty Board allowing customers to shop products via consumer-uploaded photos, and Starbucks with their #WhiteCupContest inviting customers to send in pictures of doodles on their reusable cups for the chance to have it mass-printed.
Let Consumers Market Your Product
Brands are also turning to consumers to inform what their product will be and how it will be marketed. Makeup company ColourPop took to Twitter to ask what their new makeup product should be called. Even during the Super Bowl, the most high-profile advertising event of the year, brands like Doritos called on the masses to help them market their product.
Let Consumers Launch Your Line
Finally, many brands are turning to consumers to build their products before any sort of manufacturing is done. See J. Crew’s 24-hour Instagram call for customers to vote on the color of their new Chateau Parka, or yoga and active wear brand Catalyst Activewear, which launched a Tinder-like platform where customers swipe for styles they love and customize gear and, in turn, the brand launches the line.
Hatsune Miku is a Japanese pop star that has reached international fandom yet is entirely fictional. Her songs, music videos, personality and life story were entirely constructed by a fan base and continue to be evolved by this growing fan base.
So what does this tell us about where crowdsourcing goes next?
If brands are currently crowdsourcing to improve their existing products and campaigns, the future is in the masses defining and creating the product and campaign itself, with brands following after. Investing in social listening, paying attention to evolving subcultures and facilitating space for customers to ideate and create will begin to make or break brands and their ability to connect with audiences.
Organizations that do tap into crowdsourcing can expect products, campaigns and entire brands that are more inclusive, more likely to win brand loyalty and more likely to hit the mark.