Eva Longoria is all that and a bag of chips

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This week we are talking about the idea of co-creation, and how it is becoming an integral part in the world of digital marketing. Co-creation is when consumers and businesses take the initiative to get the consumers to take a part in the process of value creation. They can do this in a variety of different ways, but perhaps the most common way is through new product development. Hoy defines this type of co-creation as “a collaborative new product development (NPD) activity in which consumers actively contribute and select various elements of new product offerings.” One of the added benefits of co-creation is that ideas generated through co-creation are more likely going to reflect the consumers needs. If the consumers are one of the key driving forces in creating a certain product, it seems obvious that the product will go on to sell.  Not only will it increase sales, but it will simultaneously begin to a build a stronger brand loyalty between the consumer and company. Co-creation doesn’t only add value to companies, but the customer also benefits from the collaboration because it becomes a fun and rewarding way that consumers can be included in their favorite companies.

The example that first came to mind was the 2012 Lay’s potato chip “Do Us A Flavor” campaign. This campaign encouraged the consumers to join the company by allowing them the opportunity to co-create a new flavor of chips that would be sold across the nation. As additional initiative Lay’s was offering the winner a $1,000,000 reward. They teamed up with actress Eva Longoria and began advertising this campaign on their Facebook and Twitter pages. This campaign began to generate a lot of buzz around the company. Thousands of hopefuls submitted their new ideas of flavors, and in March of 2013 they had narrowed it down to their three final flavors.

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Following the announcement of the three top contenders, Lay’s released the flavors into retail stores across the nation, and then allowed America to cast their votes to choose the ultimate winner. After months of deliberations, Lay’s finally announced the winner at a large event hosted by Eva Longoria.

Screen Shot 2013-11-06 at 4.59.55 PMThis campaign was a perfect example of co-creation because it allowed consumers to take a hands on position within the new product development process. The author of a marketing research blog called Green Book Blog wrote an article about Frito Lay’s co-creation campaign efforts saying, “I think Frito-Lay has executed this program well and other companies should pay attention when developing their own initiatives,” (David Bauer). He also created a 7-step guide for a company who wants to successfully launch a co-creation campaign based off the Lay’s example.

1. Have a simple objective. In this case their main goal was to collect flavor ideas. Social participants are only likely to provide “snack-size” bits of information so don’t expect them to share too much at a time.

2. Bring their ideas to life. After participants submit a flavor idea, it is instantly applied to a Lay’s package with an appropriate image. I’d love to know more about this programming that summons the right image for each flavor. I think this aspect makes the experience more engaging and fun and therefore encourages more involvement.

3. Provide instant feedback and encourage social sharing. People like collecting “likes” and this drives engagement and social sharing. In Do us a Flavor, participants can find out how many people like their flavor and from where in the country interest is coming. They can also share their flavor ideas with their Facebook friends to increase their “likes.”

4. Plan for distractions. As this is social media, there are plenty of people more interested in joking than snacking. Ridiculous flavors are in the mix. Frito-Lay has addressed this, as the default setting is to see the most popular first. Hit “randomize” and there you will see plenty of legitimate ideas along with “Bacon Milkshake,” “Powdered Donuts,” “Lobster Bisque,” and “Pickles and Ice Cream.”

5. Make Sense of It All. As with any research assignment, the toughest part is the brain work needed to sort through the data, remove the clutter, and discover the insights.

6. Hunt for Qualitative Insights. In the Frito-Lay program, each person can share a few thoughts about the inspiration for their flavor.  I’m sure this has the potential to provide an abundance of ideas, but it will take some deep review (and hopefully good text analysis software) to tease out insights that may be useful.

7. Run on all devices. If the program is run through social, it needs to be optimized for mobile devices.