To stand out from the crowd

Updated on: Apr 10, 2014








Two is a company affair, three is crowdsourcing as more and more companies use the power of crowds to cut through the clutter

Call it a buzzword or the new social currency. But everyone is realising the power of crowdsourcing and using the brainpower of the common man for their own business interests.

Recently, food and beverage giant PepsiCo’s beverage brand Mirinda asked consumers to explore their quirkiness and send in their Pagalpanti (Hindi for quirkiness) ideas and stand a chance to be featured in Mirinda’s television commercials that are being aired on national television. In a bid to involve consumers in smaller towns and cities, the brand has ensured that consumers can send in their ideas not only through social media platforms like Facebook but also through a simple text message. The brand has already aired four TVCs based on crowdsourced ideas.

PepsiCo is not the only one. The number of companies which have been using crowdsourcing is only growing. Consumers helped Micromax get a new logo and a fresh brand identity. While online restaurant guide Zomato used crowdsourcing initiatives to create ad campaigns, car maker Hyundai went a step further.

It asked consumers to write in with their ideas for a campaign for i10. The winner got an opportunity to feature in television commercials with Hindi film superstar Shah Rukh Khan.

Advertising is not the only reason why brands are turning to consumers. Brands are also using it to get consumer insights which help them ensure they are in tune with what consumers want. Handset maker Nokia last year opened up the app development platform to consumers, giving them a chance to tell what kind of mobile apps they want. Last year, the initiative received over 38,000 app entries and of the short-listed top 2,000 app ideas, 1,300 apps are already up and live on the Windows Phone Store. From ideas on creating security apps for women to health and social networking and from apps on education to environment conservation, the company has received several creative mobile app ideas in the last season. The company was so pleased with the response that it has launched the second season of “NokiaYour Wish is my app.”

Politicians and even the Government are not far behind on this count. The ongoing parliamentary election campaign has seen political parties turning to the citizens of the country for their suggestions and making the favourable ideas part of their manifestos. India got its new rupee symbol when the Government ran an open competition.

Brand experts say crowdsourcing for campaigns not only does help companies engage with consumers, it also gives them a credible platform to communicate with their users.

Ruchira Jaitly, Senior Director - Marketing, Social Beverages at PepsiCo India, says, “Crowdsourcing is a unique platform to engage with our large consumer base and ensure we remain relevant to their evolving needs.” She adds that brands that choose crowdsourcing as a tool are clearly letting their consumers know their opinion matters and that their choices are intrinsic to the business.

“It also gives a sense of ownership to the consumers as we have seen in the past, with some really strong crowdsourcing plans. Such campaigns successfully help break the clutter thanks to the generation of unusual and innovative ideas.”

The company has earlier worked on evolving the concept of Pagalpanti for Mirinda by launching innovative flavours such as Mirinda Orange Mango and Orange Masala besides Mirinda Apple and Grape flavours. “This year we thought of going all out to get our consumers to share their pagalpanti quotient and the response has been spectacular with some truly out-of-the-box ideas that capture the essence of pagalpanti in an authentic way. We believe crowdsourcing is not just a source of information, it’s a great way to connect the brands with their fans, customers or followers and for the brand to learn more about the consumer,” says Jaitly. This isn’t the first time PepsiCo India has started a crowdsourcing initiative. In the past, it had run co-creation initiatives such as “Lay’s Give us your Dillicious Flavour” and “Lay’s Guess Whose Flavour” campaigns.

Like PepsiCo, even Nokia is a believer. Navdeep Manaktala, Head - Applications & Developer Ecosystem at Nokia India, says, “We believe that the apps consumers download on their phones are somewhere an extension of their personality and what exactly is playing on their mind. As we see today, applications are becoming an intrinsic element of consumer’s mobile experience. They not only add to the device’s capabilities but also give each consumer the opportunity to personalise their handsets. We believe there is always room for innovation and hence with this campaign, we have included the consumer in the innovation process. The idea is about giving more power to the consumers.”

Brand strategy expert Harish Bijoor feels the concept of crowdsourcing will evolve over the years.

“Smaller companies might use crowdsourcing for campaign ideas as ad agencies are becoming more and more expensive. Also companies might use it to throw open the creative debate. Crowdsourcing is also expected to be used for market research,” he says.

The dictionary would consider “crowd” as an unruly or disorganised gathering. For marketing, it creates a new definition altogether.

Published on April 10, 2014

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