The Customer Personalization Experience

A few months ago, we talked about Food Lion’s contest to have customers help come up with names for their private label sodas. Since then, it seems like more and more brands are turning to their customers for input on names, flavors or even products themselves. Just last week, Lays was handing out bags of potato chips right outside our office so the public could try 4 new flavors other consumers had previously created. Now that the final four fan-made flavors have made it this far it's time for everyone to vote for their favorite (We tried the wasabi ginger and cappuccino – guess which one got our vote). Then this week, I read an article about McDonald’s creating a “burger builder” website where consumers can select from different bun, meat and topping combinations to create their own burgers and submit them into a competition in the UK where the winning burger will be served in over 1,200 restaurants.

Crowd-sourcing can be a great starting point for idea generation, and I think that’s an important point to remember, especially when it comes to something as influential as your product name. Names can mean a lot to consumers and it’s still very important to understand everything it may communicate – on both overt and subconscious levels.  However, when it comes to a limited edition product meant to create attention for the brand, I think crowd-sourcing can definitely be the right fit for generating buzz. By engaging and involving customers in this way, brands gain a lot of publicity and create the opportunity to have their contest go viral (Searching #DoUsAFlavor on Twitter brings up countless tweets surrounding the new Lays flavors). Not only that, but brands are also able to build up a strong connection and relationship with their consumers as they feel personally invested in the product, and may be more likely to buy the winning product once it makes it to production. It's important for customers to feel that they have a voice, and being able to create something that might actually make it to market is just too fun of an opportunity to pass up.