Usage of crowdsourcing platforms by top fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies grew by 27% between 2014 and 2015. Crowdsourcing is a process of outsourcing services & organizing labor by companies through online communities via open platforms. The process helps organizations in driving deeper consumer engagement, task optimization, co-creating opportunities, generating new ideas & solutions and in reducing costs.
The top company using crowdsourcing in 2014 was P&G, followed by Unilever & Nestle. Companies today are following the crowd-centric approach for various indirect spend areas such as Marketing, Finance, Information Technology, Professional Services and Research & Development. Amazon’s Mechanical Turk website is one of the best known crowdsourcing intermediaries. The website, though still in beta testing phase, hosts a large number of Human Intelligent tasks for companies.
Marketing services companies are leveraging crowdsourcing platforms primarily in generating content, fueling marketing campaigns and conducting cost-effective market research. Some of the major platforms used by companies for marketing services are 99designs to crowdsource design activities, Brand Tags for tagging brands, Idea Bounty for generating ideas and Innovation Exchange for open innovation. Of course, crowdsourcing for marketing services can pose risks if they are not supported by right goals. They have the potential to quickly spin off and disrupt the brand’s reputation.
In the process of implementing crowdsourcing, typical risks to watch out for include:
- Receiving low quality work.
- Engaging in an unknown environment.
- Intellectual property right infringement.
On a positive note, there are a huge number of success stories of brands implementing and generating benefits out of crowdsourcing. For example, Kraft Foods incorporated crowdsourcing for devising brand positioning strategy for their Mini-Oreo Cookies. Despite some commercial success, the product was not able to distinguish itself from normal Oreo Cookies. Kraft partnered with crowdsourcing platform eYeka for gathering poster designs & print ads apt for the Mini-Oreo product. Through this activity, the group received more than 500 ideas from around 42 countries. Then, the company was able to identify and filter top ideas for brand positioning. The crowdsourcing initiative helped the organization in generating global campaigns for their Mini-Oreo Cookie product and then the product was a huge success.
Key metrics companies should consider before planning and executing crowdsourcing for marketing include:
- Clearly defining goals of the marketing campaign.
- Choosing apt crowdsourcing platform or community.
- Analyzing the feasibility and cost implementation.
- Projecting the end result of the initiative.
Crowdsourcing in marketing is still at its infancy stage, and in the future marketers will likely strive to adopt this model for other marketing subcategories ꟷ such as Merchandising or Print & Fulfillment. Marketers must focus on formulating strong policies to mitigate any ethical risks such as click fraud and usage of crowdsourcing to gather competitive intelligence.