If you have ever written a television commercial for a contest, created an article for an online magazine as an independent contributor or given your design point of view to an online apparel manufacturer to impact next season’s styles, you have participated in the latest form of “democratic design” or crowdsourcing.
At its best, crowdsourcing gives companies a very real understanding of the nature of their customers – what they want, think, and need right now based on the way these responders react to the challenge. For consumers who are in love with a brand or a brand experience, it gives marketers another way to understand how brand loyalty works. And it is particularly prevalent right now in a number of media areas. (Please note that I am not promoting or endorsing these examples – just providing them here for illustrative purposes.)
For Ladies Home Journal, starting with the March 2012’s edition, “many of the pages” are going to be turned over to readers -- not for reading – but for writing. According to Advertising Age, readers will “upload their own stories” from a variety of locations – the magazine’s own website, FaceBook page or other digital “channels.”. Though it can be argued that it isn’t very democratic if final editorial decisions will be made by the magazine’s editors vs. a vote by readers, it opens up the field to a variety of viewpoints from the marketplace.
Another crowdsourcing resource is the website Threadless.com, which welcomes contributors to provide them with styles, slogans and ideas for their tee-shirts for cash and fame. It’s a creative way to get a concept out there – accepted by peers and further proof that ideas can come from anywhere.
Furthermore, there are many other companies using consumers for fresh new ideas especially food firms who look for new flavor ideas, via contests and prizes.
The beauty and difference with crowdsourcing is that rather than giving an opinion based on the choices the marketer provides via market research, now you can supply the choice that might be evaluated or considered by the manufacturers and the customers they serve. You may not get the creative rights, but for some, the bragging rights are more than enough.