Follow the CROWD, the future belongs to it!
YOUR CONSUMERS KNOW WHAT THEY WANT, THE FUTURE BELONGS TO CROWDS
WHEN SALES AND MARKETING PEOPLE TALK ABOUT “END-USER INCLUSION”, THERE’S USUALLY AN UNCOMFORTABLE, CULT-LIKE EDGE TO THEIR RHETORIC: “turn your customers into brand evangelists” (ebrangelists?); “turn your customers into advocates”; “turn your customers into rabid fans.”
But evangelists are just after converts, advocates are most useful when you’ve done something wrong and rabid fans only offer uncritical support. Unless you’re genuinely doing everything perfectly, you never want uncritical support. How are you going to improve if you don’t know where you’re going wrong?
If you want to include your customers, get them involved in the development process. End-user input can help your company validate existing innovations and tease out new ones, but most companies still seek to simply survey or question their users – scribbling notes from behind the two-way glass.
Now, focus groups often provide interesting opportunities and useful insights. Just as often, however, they hit the limits of their potential. A single loud voice can drown out measured, thoughtful criticism; a particularly unmotivated group will offer answers quickly so they can grab their Amazon voucher and go home.
Crowdsourcing allows businesses to draw on incredibly potent resources to amplify creativity, innovation and knowledge. At the same time, consumers are brought closer to the heart of products, services and issues they care deeply about. The two are mutually inclusive, and the results can be fantastic.
EXPANDING YOUR PRODUCT TEAM
When you bring users into product development, you receive critical knowledge, insights, and creativity that you would have otherwise lacked – at a scale of your own choosing. Creating breakthrough innovation is no longer about just research or validation; it’s about crowd economies and end-user inclusion. With crowdsourcing – and we see this time and again through client successes – true innovation is about strategically integrating end-user ideas and intelligence over time.
The idea isn’t to make your customers drink the Kool-Aid. You want them to be de facto employees and strategic partners: they’re not just there to spread the good word to your prospects (though ideally they will), they’re there to help you iron out the kinks, and make good products even better.
When users are involved in development – and guided by experts – they can uncover ideas and potential improvements on an ongoing basis. Thoughts that would never have occurred to your team may well have occurred to a member of the general public. With the right approach, you can mine a rich seam of creativity and intelligence to create products that amaze your target audience. It won’t be easy, of course: it requires a shift in mindset and skills: experts and employees must become curators of knowledge, and not just knowledge holders themselves. Implement it correctly, though, and it can produce dramatic improvements at high speed.
Why not learn from the best? FMCG companies can take a leaf from the innovation playbooks of these brands: both high-fliers in their respective niche – and both leaders in the field of crowdsourced intelligence.
SOMERSBY – TIME TO STRUM OUR OWN SITAR!
In our own work with Carlsberg’s cider brand, Somersby, we supported the brand team in a tough launch into the Swiss market. Enabling Somersby to build an online crowd of target end users, gave the team incredible access to and understanding of Swiss-French and Swiss-German culture. In return, engaged Swiss citizens became enlivened by the Somersby brand, created anticipation, drove huge demand and supported a successful launch – growing brand awareness to 20% before the launch had even happened for precisely zero marketing spend.
MEDTRONIC DIABETES – SIMILARLY, IN OUR WORK WITH MEDTRONIC DIABETES, WE IDENTIFIED KEY INFLUENCERS AT SCALE ACROSS EUROPE AND LINKED THESE KEY VOICES WITH THE BUSINESS.
Ongoing dialogue thereafter has enabled Medtronic to set-up productive influencer workshops and drive discussion, product testing and online content like never before, building advocacy and raising wider awareness of the brand at the same time. This is great for Medtronic for obvious reasons, but it is even better for diabetes sufferers because the business is now deeply linked into their needs on an ongoing basis and can respond with research, innovation, communication, content, new products and support.
SO MANY COMPANIES SPEND SO MUCH TIME WONDERING ABOUT THE KINDS OF PRODUCTS AND SERVICES THEIR CUSTOMERS MIGHT WANT.
If these examples demonstrate anything, it’s that you can get pretty decent results if you just ask. FMCG companies have already made inroads into this area: in 2013 and 2014, crowdsourcing growth approached 50%. Where once it was the province of tech companies, it is now beloved of global corporations like Unilever.
For FMCG companies in particular: growth, evolution and success is driven not just by what your business does, but how it is done.
We know challenges are being met and overcome through crowdsourcing. Markets, products and services are finding innovation in both their products and their communications through carefully curating end user intelligence throughout the go to market process.
For FMCG companies, it’s possible to use this intelligence to boost quality and speed-to-market. All you have to do is trust that your customer knows what they want to see in their products – and involve them in the process of creating them.