In my previous post ‘Media Social = Etoile de Mer‘ (in French), I mentioned the example of Red Hat a company that has managed to succeed while participating in and contributing to internal and external communities through social networks. This open source model has thus demonstrated that it is entirely possible to design, develop and deliver successful products by using communities.
More and more brands are using the Internet crowd (some calling them tribes and other communities). But still several companies are asking why?
Well, mainly for two reasons:
the 1st reason:
European consumers can be influenced. In Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom, they cheerfully admitted to the agency Weber Shandwick, who wanted to know which channels play a role in purchasing decisions consumers.
Internet plays an important role through consumers’ reviews for 26% of respondents. (23% in France)
Friends and family coming second with an average of 20% of respondents who indicated that advice from this close circle played a major role in their choices. (The Germans have a greater propensity for this channel recommendation with 22% of average. Contradicting, we find the Spaniards to 17%).
Last “human” intermediary, the salesperson meets 13% of the vote.
The more traditional channels of communication shared the lowest scores: 12% for newspapers, 11% for brand sites, 9% for audiovisual media and advertising.
(an extract from the post ‘Europeans prefer the opinion of others to advertising‘ (in French) published on Le Figaro’s blog).
the 2nd reason:
Consumers do not want anymore to be only at the receiver side … they want to participate and contribute to the development of products and services they buy, they consume. They don’t want anymore to be considered as a ‘homogeneous crowd’.
Marketing 2.0 signaled the end where brands’ marketing considered consumers as a single homogeneous mass. Marketing has evolved to take into account the peculiarities of each with the appearance several years ago of affinity marketing. But with the evolution of social media, it is especially crowdsourcing that knows a boom lately.
Crowdsourcing (or collaborative marketing) is the act of taking a job traditionally performed by a designated agent (usually an employee) and outsourcing it to an undefined, generally large group of people in the form of an open call. This could include asking consumers to vote for a new flavor of food for a new product color or a slogan, a logo or a name of a new product.
The example of Vitamin Water (Coca Cola), which arrived in France a few months ago, is unprecedented. Instead of buying pages in the press and to be promoted in supermarkets, the new drink has used influence and word of mouth for its launch and become a fashionable drink. Some might be skeptical … but when you look closer at their US sales figures of over 650 million euros, you bow (as we say in French).
Vitamin Water has recently crowdsourced the name for its new product, with a 3,500 euros for the winner. The vote for the ‘best name’ has been submitted to Vitamin Water’s over 1 million fans on Facebook. Result: the name to be selected was ‘CONNECT’. Vitamin Water has even pushed its marketing further with the integration of the Facebook logo on its new product packaging to encourage more consumers to become a fan of the brand. This mention ‘Made by fans for fans on Facebook’ has as well been added. Wow!
Several other initiatives of the kind have seen the light in France during 2009.
Danone for example, has organized a big vote on the internet asking users to select the new Danette fragrance.
On ImagineTGV, customers’ contributions are made via their web site. The adoption of Wi-Fi in the TGV has emerged through this process.
Another company to encourage crowdsourcing via its online video platform is EYEKA. Through calls for creation, relayed to a community of over 30,000 Internet users, EYEKA allows brands to solicit quality contributions from the crowd, in a controlled and clear legal framework. The best creators are rewarded by the brands.
Lately, Honda Auto France has chosen EYEKA for its ‘hybrid for all’ project (‘hybride pour tous’). They are interested to have and share the vision that Internet users have for the ‘hybrid’ in general, without limiting the crowd to the automotive environment. I’ve selected two creations I’ve liked:
Question. Will marketing become as well ‘hybrid’? …where consumers not only participate and contribute to brands’ projects, but also invest financially in it? … as already the case in the movie industry. The new released movie Le Siffleur (The Whistler) by Philippe Lefebvre with Thierry Lhermitte and François Berléand is an example, where 372 members via the social platform PeopleForCinema, were involved in the film and invested each between 20 and 5,000 €. Verdict in a few days, when the 1st week box office figures are released.
A mix of researchers, planners, brand strategists and social media experts based in London, think that a hybrid model for open innovation can exist.
(post originally written in French)