Smart companies know that they have to pay attention to their customers if they want them to hang around.
That can take many forms, from social media interaction, to research, to transactional data analysis.
The deeper your understanding of your customers’ attitudes, habits and needs, the deeper the engagement you can create with them. And the easier it becomes to get new customers.
Listening is critical. Asking your customers their opinions is even better.
Danish toy manufacturer LEGO has taken this a step further. They asked their customers to do their design work. The subsequent ideas and public vote on their website has led to the launch of a 369-piece replica of the Hayabusa asteroid explorer, the Japanese-designed space probe that collects samples from asteroids for study back here.
It was probably not an idea that LEGO would have hit on, but their customers sure did. Imagine the kind of loyalty that will flow from LEGO’s openness to customer input.
One of the coolest features of this model is Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency mission supervisor Junichiro Kawaguchi recreated in miniature with two expressions: one for “everything’s great” and another for “%$&#*@!”
(Guest post by our Vancouver Island University intern Brad Tribbeck)
Crowdsourcing: trying to find a way of completing a task, a solution to a problem, etc. by asking a wide range of people or organisations if they can help, typically by using the Internet. (Macmillan Dictionary)
More brands have recently taken advantage of crowdsourcing, especially with social media making it easier to connect with the people who love brands and want to help shape their products.
Looking through successful examples of crowdsourcing, like the ones in this Mashable article, it’s obvious the type of products that are most likely best-suited to the crowdsourcing model: Lower cost products with a high level of brand loyalty. These loyal customers love what the brand has done in the past and are providing great insight by telling the brand what it would love even more from the products. Great stuff.
This got me thinking about what kind of products would not be good candidates for crowdsourcing. Personally, my first thought was a fast, expensive sports car. When someone purchases such an expensive and exclusive vehicle, would they have a more favorable view of it knowing that a group of strangers on the internet designed the interior upholstery fabric? Probably not. In the case of such a large purchase, the buyer is buying into the manufacturer’s choices because they are so exclusive and highly regarded. Buyers want a Ferrari, not John Doe’s idea of a Ferrari.
For certain products it is best not to give the customers control. What products would you rather not see crowdsourced?
There’s a section in most advertising Creative Briefs that asks the question: How do we want our customers to react to the advertising?
You get a lot of poorly considered responses such as;
> This product is superior to other products in the category!
> I will have to run out and get this newly formulated product now.
> I love the new packaging! More reason to buy!
Now there is a site that offers up some funny examples of Things Real People Don’t Say About Advertising.
It’s a site that businesses and their ad agencies should take seriously.
As long as we continue to fool ourselves that shampooers get virtually orgasmic while they use our products, or that spouses high-five in the kitchen when we introduce a new cheese slice package design, we will continue to make a case for consumer-generated content.
I’ve never liked those overly sweet, cheap-chocolate caramel reptiles.
Now I have a new reason to hate them: their advertising!
First they hit the consumer-generated content campaign trail a few years back to encourage Canadians to “Sing the Jingle” for a chance to appear in their TV advertising.
I love this quote from John Herbert, assistant brand manager at Nestlé Canada: “The Turtles jingle holds a special place in the hearts of Canadians,” he said. “I don’t know anyone who can’t sing along to “Mmm… I love Turtles™”.
“Mmm…I love Turtles trademark.” Catchy.
So we get a lot of tuneless, instant-fame wannabees playing into Nestle’s hands by singing about how much they love the product. Hey gang, the cliff’s over here!
Don’t even get me started on consumer-generated content. It was cute for about 6 minutes. A few years back. But when it’s orchestrated like a giant money shot all over the product?
I just caught their newest commercial on TV. It’s a spot about a guy visiting his girlfriend’s house at Christmas to meet her parents for the first time: He stands on the front step and practices what he’s going to say in a voice loud enough to set off car alarms. Rather than drop a piano on him, they invite him in. He brought Turtles as a gift! It’s going to be OK.
I tried to find it on YouTube to share with you, but it’s so bad they didn’t dare post it.
I hurled a sock at the TV and shouted “Stupidest commercial ever!”
Stupidest Commercial Ever™.