In 2009 Vitaminwater launched flavorcreator, an application on Facebook. Flavorcreator consisted out of three phases and per phase users could play different games and participate in contests. The most important contest was to create your own flavor. This can be seen as an action of Vitaminwater to crowdsource symmetrically skilled, young users. As reward for participation the winning idea received $5.000. But I have to note that besides crowdsourcing, flavorcreator was also a clever way to do market research…
The first step of the application was to determine your favorite flavor. The current top 10 was showed and a list of other flavors (developed via conversation mining, from Google, Twitter, Flickr and the food site ‘foodgawker’). The second step consisted of four different games that were quite simple and related to health. After you played all games, the application recommended a vitamin. However, in reality, the data Vitaminwater received via this where used to decide on the functional benefits of the new product. The third step was a label contest where people could design their own name, label and blurb for their Vitaminwater bottle. In the end the winning flavor, black cherry-lime, was called “Connect” and contained caffeine and eight key nutrients (see the picture below). The complete design was developed from data gathered of flavorcreator.
The big advantage of crowdsourcing is that it costs almost nothing. However, there are situations where crowdsourcing fails. For example, it is important to make a difference between normal people or professionals when thinking about a target group. In the latter, companies must be aware that they ask people to do something for free that they normally do for living. This can be interpreted as an insult and result in a negative outcome. What companies as Vitaminwater did well is that they appealed non-professionals, who still knew a lot about the topic.
Another reason for the success of flavorcreator is the success of the project in different scenarios. The worst-case for Vitaminwater was that the crowd won’t
produce a winning product. If that happened, Vitaminwater still had a catalog of other popular flavors to fall back on. Besides, they would receive market data that could be useful future products. The whole campaign also provided improved brand visibility. This is illustrated by the fact that the flavorcreator application resulted in an increase of 581.000 users (+145%) of the Facebook fan page in just one month.
Flavorcreator can be seen as a massive market research project in combination with crowdsourcing. The platform made use of a variety of social networking features (e.g. discussion areas, sharing, and fanning) and created a win-win situation for crowd and company. The crowd got his own product and Vitaminwater got a pre-approved product. A process that would normally take two years and cost millions of dollars now happened in three months and cost only a few thousands of dollars. This shows the power of the crowd and the benefits of co-creating a product.
Elton, E. (2009) Vitaminwater to Crowdsource New Flavor Through Facebook App, Social Times, http://www.adweek.com/socialtimes/vitaminwater-to-crowdsource-new-flavor-through-facebook-app/227984?red=if retrieved on 1-3-2016
Kincaid, J. (2010) Facebook Just Got Its Own VitaminWater Flavor: “Connect”. Seriously. TC http://techcrunch.com/2010/01/07/facebook-vitaminwater/ retrieved on 1-3-2016
Dillow, C. (2009) Crowdsourcing 101: Why Vitaminwater’s Facebook App Can’t Lose, FastCompany, http://www.fastcompany.com/1353149/crowdsourcing-101-why-vitaminwaters-facebook-app-cant-lose retrieved on 1-3-2016
Rappaport, S.D. (2011) Listen First!: Turning Social Media Converstaions Into Business Advantage p. 64
Stone, Experimental & Successful Social Media Campaigns, Stone, http://www.stoneig.com/social-media-marketing/231-experimental-a-successful-social-media-campaigns, retrieved on 1-3-2016