Should You Crowdsource Your Product Design?
In recent years, the wall between brands and consumers has begun to show cracks. Slowly but surely, paradigms shift as product customization and personalized services continue to take center stage in retail. These days, it’s not uncommon for shoppers to find themselves as both the consumer and the designer of a product. The most relevant example of this is crowdsourcing. Not to be mistaken with crowdfunding, which helps brands gain early monetary support from their [future] consumers, crowdsourcing allows you to gain insight as to what your customer wants before you’ve created a product.
Numerous sites have begun to pop-up that facilitate this kind of dialogue and to great success. Sites like Crowdspring and IdeaBounty allow you to post your ideas, survey consumers, let the ideas pour in, and choose the best one(s). Once you go through the process you only pay for the idea(s) you want, sometimes for as low as $7. Companies from small startups to huge multinational corporations like Target have also used crowdsourcing to their advantage.
ThirdLove, a startup focusing on comfortable bras and underwear for all sizes of women used tens of thousands of women’s measurements to find the perfect fit for their wares. Each size was then tested on employees and customers alike in order to ensure it fit as many women as possible. The company has seen remarkable returns since hitting the market and has had incredible feedback from the online community and with good reason – their product was built in direct response to their customers’ needs.
From a brand owner’s perspective, crowdsourcing takes the dread out of creating something, putting it through the R&D and production phases, and then releasing it all while having only a general idea of how it will fare on the market. If you already know a large sample population wants what you’re making, isn’t that half the battle already won? If, however, you know precisely what your customer wants (and perhaps more importantly what they don’t want) you avoid wasting your time and resources. After all, the golden rules for any business are that “The Customer Is Always Right” (debatable) and “Give the Customer What They Want” (never debatable) – crowdsourcing merely puts these mantras into action.
Many brand owners believe they know what’s best, or that their ideas are truly so innovative, there’s no possible way they will fail to sell. False. Decide if you are running a business just to feel special or whether giving your customer what they truly want is It all depends on whether you are in this to feel special or to give your customers what they want. Crowdsourcing will provide the latter, and if you are willing to break down that age old wall that was bound to fall sooner or later, it can help you.
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