Crowdsourcing – The Power Of Plenty!

Posted in Marketing & Strategy Articles, Total Reads: 4228 , Published on 17 February 2012
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Hum mein hai Hero!!! One of the most popular advertising jingles of year 2011 composed and sung by A.R Rehman; the jingle had a tremendous audience response, so much so that it was used by many viewers to create their own versions on you tube. This has now opened the doors for the next stage of this campaign, asking users themselves to generate the next TVC for Hero.  People are being invited to sing the Heroes song, shoot their video and upload it to heromotocorp.com and their video and thus consumers themselves can become a part of the next TVC.

Crowdsourcing

The phenomenon and indeed this is one is called ‘Crowdsourcing’. Now, as the etymology suggests it means ‘outsourcing to the crowd’. According to Wikipedia which itself is an explicit example of crowdsourcing the term “crowdsourcing” was coined by Jeff Howe back in 2006, in a wired article which described it as the act of sourcing tasks traditionally performed by specific individuals to a group of people or community (crowd) through an open   call.

Though the term was coined in 2006 but crowdsourcing is nothing new. In fact, if we give it a conscious glance we can actually find a lot of examples of crowdsourcing around. We all remember the famous dialogue from ‘Sholey,”kitna inaam rakhi hai sarkaar hum par”. So, when police issues a criminal’s sketch (the notorious Gabbar Singh in this case) and asks general public to help catch him, it’s nothing but crowdsourcing.  On a more serious ‘note’ (literally), we can find the latest example of the new rupee symbol which was decided by the Indian government by actually outsourcing it to the general public. This example of crowdsourcing is a fantastic one because it highlights one of the key principles of crowdsourcing - innovation and creativity can come from anywhere.

Industry Popularity Breakdown

So what’s so great about crowdsourcing? Well, there’s a lot!!  The first and foremost advantage of crowdsourcing is that it saves money which of course is honey for every business. Crowdsourcing provides you with the best value for your money as you have plenty of options to choose from. It eliminates the need for supervising the whole process of idea generation and you get a complete idea as the end product. It is not necessary every task that you do becomes a success. To get new products developed companies have to invest in R&D. And in case if the experiment fails you lose a lot of money. Contrary to this in crowdsourcing, the same thing can be done in a cheaper way. Moreover, crowdsourcing is a great marketing tool because consumer is actually involved in the whole process of idea generation. Consumers become ‘brand partners’ rather than ‘brand users’. Crowdsourcing generates buzz and interest for your company and in some cases even new talent. Many companies give their problems to B school students in the form of case studies in inter-B school competitions and give job offers to students who win, thus providing the company with both the solution and the talent!

Companies spend a humongous amount of money on the 4th ‘P’ of marketing i.e ‘promotion’ and are still not able to get a catch-hold of the consumer’s pulse. Crowdsourcing makes the consumer tell you what he really wants.  'Give Us Your Dillicious Flavour' campaign was launched in October 2009 by Frito Lay's. Four flavours were shortlisted from around 1.3 million entries from consumers. Each of the entries that got shortlisted got Rs 5 lakh, for their ideas. Mobile Phone brand Micromax, very recently organised a nation-wide creative hunt contest to revamp the brand’s logo.

Lays

The concept behind the creative hunt is to keep up with the changing market scenario and customer tastes, and bring about some freshness. The contest is a great opportunity to connect with the consumers and moreover the entries that come in from artists all across the country will give more interesting design options rather than have just one agency working on the logo designs, The example of Hero Motocorp has already been mentioned where the consumer is himself making the ad for the company.

So what’s next in crowdsourcing? Crowdsourcing will now move beyond the advertising, marketing and the information world. How about movies? Almost all movie awards like star screen, filmfare etc have been using crowd voting for deciding awards for best actor actress etc. For his film, Aarakshan, director Prakash Jha had a disagreement with his co-director, Mohit Suri, about the main poster that they should use. They decided to take the issue to the people to let them choose, since the posters are for the people anyway. Onir of ‘my brother Nikhil’ fame used ‘crowdfunding’ which is another form of crowdsourcing to raise almost a third of his movie budget for his upcoming venture ‘I Am’.

Movies

With topics such as homosexuality and child abuse, it was very difficult for Onir to receive any funding for the film through more official channels. Onir reached out to Facebook and Twitter users to request funding for the project. Hollywood went one step ahead, on the new site of Amazon Studios, anyone could upload a screenplay, make changes or additions to someone else's screenplay and anyone could turn the screenplay into a test movie. At the end of the year, the best film to emerge from this process would win a prize of $1m and a meeting with Warner Bros development executives. Now, how successful Amazon is with such a project is yet to be seen.

As companies realize the power of crowdsourcing, a number of crowdsourcing platforms have come up on the internet like ideabounty.com and talenthouse.com. Of course we have facebook and twitter as well. Crowdsourcing is becoming more and more viable for companies with the advent of social media. Whether you need a logo, a new product design or for that matter even script writers, all you need to do is go to any of the numerous online platforms that provide for creative crowdsourcing.

Does this mean we no longer need R&D department, script writers or advertising agencies for that matter? Maybe not! Crowd can only generate ideas; you also need someone to convert the idea into a final product. Marketers and researchers work under constraints of deadlines, research, feedback, market realities and several other guidelines while the crowd is free from these bounds, so the crowd may bring more creativity but their final product may not always be useful to the company. One must realize that consumers have an opinion about advertising, not expertise. Another problem with crowdsourcing is that the final product is the property of consumer and not the company. Consumer can give the same or similar idea to another company by simply entering another contest. Crowdsourcing in worst cases can also be harmful for brand image as it can give an impression that company is not competent enough to come up with its own ideas and is thus dependent on consumers for that. Crowdsourcing even if successful can only be so for strong and powerful brands. Why would consumer build ideas for a brand that they don’t know about?

One thing is certain that crowdsourcing is the new high in marketing and we are going to see a lot more of it in the future even though it is making the advertising agencies script-writers and entire R &D department getting weak at their knees. But considering the aforementioned negatives; can’t think of a better question to conclude this article ‘kya yeh public sab jaanti hai?’

This article has been authored by Pranav Bajaj from IMT-Ghaziabad

Image: africa / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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