Time and time again the crowd has proven to be a useful tool for businesses and people alike. Waze, a crowdsourced mobile traffic solution, goes beyond GPS to help drivers in congested cities navigate to their destinations as obstruction-free as possible. Each user of the map app has the ability to alert thousands of other local users of potential hazards that might slow them down such as car accidents, road blocks, and speed checkpoints.
While newer tech companies and startups are no stranger to crowdsourcing, traditional companies have also been using the crowd to help their businesses and make their customers happy in a variety of clever ways.
Coca Cola is known for its innovative and creative advertisements; one classic Coke ad even inspired the final scene of the series finale of the acclaimed TV show “Mad Men.” So when the in-house creative team charged with thinking up ads ran out of ideas, Coca Cola decided to crowdsource its new ad campaign. The company created an online community for submissions, and the winning ad performed better than other ads Coca Cola had commissioned in the past, leading to a 900% productivity gain.
When GE aviation engineers were faced with the problem of an overweight plane part and not enough time or know-how to develop a new, 3D printed solution– they wanted to reduce the weight of the part which would also save fuel–they crowdsourced the new jet engine bracket. The winning redesigned part was discovered via an online community of engineers and designers. The young winner, who had no experience in aviation, was able to reduce the weight of the part by 84%. Now GE is working with the crowdsourcing site Quirky, a community of inventors, to come up with other innovative ideas for GE patents that could potentially go to market.
Have you ever wondered how potato chip flavors are created? In 2013, Lay’s set out to make the process a bit more transparent by crowdsourcing new potato chip flavors. They launched the aptly named “Do Us a Flavor” campaign on Facebook, and received more than 14 million chip flavor ideas submitted by the public over the course of 10 months. They market tested three finalist flavors which customers could buy in stores and taste at home. Ad awareness of the brand increased by two percent, while purchase intent increased by one percent; a tasty treat for the brand and customers alike.
The processed food brand decided to increase its innovation by opening up an in-house crowdsourcing platform called G-WIN. Via the platform, members of the crowd could pitch innovative ideas for new products, product packaging, and even improvements to General Mills’ manufacturing and service processes.
We’re all used to seeing celebrity spokespeople on TV and in print ads trying to convince us to purchase our clothing from a certain company. To go a different route, Levi’s, the denim jeans brand, used Instagram and the hashtag #iamlevis to crowdsource a new brand spokesperson for their 2012 marketing campaign. Given this was still in the early days of Instagram, the brand received over 3,500 photo submissions of customers wearing their jeans, an impressive number at the time.
The international fast food chain launched a “build your own burger” test to let customers do just that. Given the popularity of other individualized restaurant chains such as Chipotle and Subway, customers prefer customization when it comes to food. This crowdsourced test lets customer order a variety of toppings and sauces along with other burger elements outside of the traditional menu offerings. Customers place their orders on iPads, so that McDonald’s can analyze the data, determine which ingredients are the most popular, and launch what will hopefully be a new hit burger.
Having packages delivered can be a headache. Whether there’s no one home to sign for your package or an unknown neighbor is accidentally holding the package hostage or the box is left on a doorstep and stolen, finding a way to solve the problem of getting packages to their intended recipients is on many companies’ agendas. That’s why DHL developed the Myways app. It’s a way for packages to be delivered when and where a customer wants, by a crowdsourced delivery person who can make some extra cash doing this service. Customers get to choose how much they want to pay for the special delivery.
The mobile provider Base has created an online community where expert tablet and smartphone users hang out and offer help. After buying a phone, Base customers can post questions about their mobile device and how to operate it and get answers from these Mobilfunkexperten (English: Mobile Phone Experts).
In 2012, the computer company created an online forum called the Apple Support Community where customers who are having problems with their Apple software or hardware can go online and post their issue to the community. Members of the community then respond with options, effectively crowdsourcing solutions and fixes that the original poster can DIY to test what works. Via their support communities, Apple delivers a form of both crowdsourced service and customer self-service. Apple users regularly turn to the online forum first to fix a problem before escalating the issue to the in-store Genius Bar if it still cannot be fixed.
Image: Hsing Wei | Flickr