Use The Power Of The Crowd

So, I was at a meeting the other day where we were presenting various crowdsourced applications for getting product ideas from customers. We presented some companies and case studies where the companies leveraged the commons, usually their customers, in order to come up with new product ideas. For example, Quirky lets you design a product, submit everything from the initial idea to packaging, the winning products get created, and then everyone shares in the proceeds.

Another example we presented was Mountain Dew, who, in a campaign called the Dew-mocracy, came up with 3 new flavors, and let the crowd decide which one of the flavors should be put into production. Interestingly the crowd at the presentation was not too keen about that. One person even heckled “Are they still selling it?”

I sensed the old attitude of “the customer is usually wrong” – while the customer is great since he pays us, he/she doesn’t really know what they want, so we have to figure that out for them and give it to them. Well, that attitude may have been able to play in the past, but with the internet, and its ability to give EVERYONE a voice, that voice should be listened to.

Is the crowd always right? No, but the crowd represents what the majority of people want. For the first time in history, most people have a larger voice than ever. Think about it: in the old world, before Twitter or Facebook, could a regular person, not a celebrity, have 40,000 people who hang on their every word. And that doesn’t even count the viral nature of retweets or shares. No, they couldn’t.

Your customer has a voice. It is now loud and strong. We HAVE to take heed – have to adjust ourselves. Think of it as free market research, and act accordingly.