Crowdsourcing is a great way to cement the bond between the brand and the consumer.
The Hindi word Jugaad literally means an improvised or jury-rigged solution. To my mind, Jugaad or the Indian way of improvisation is hilariously summed up in the 2002 TV commercial for Peugeot. The officious white Ambassador car is beaten & battered into a Peugeot to fulfil the aspirations of a ‘sadak-chhaap’, ‘starry-eyed’, ‘small-town’ Indian youth to own and flaunt a Peugeot. (In reality, it was an international commercial, that was made by Tarsem Singh; but that’s not the point).
Those from the northern part of the country, largely UP, would identify ‘Jugaad’ as the van-auto-tractor-jeep hybrid that is used for ferrying passengers short distances.
The April, 2010 edition of The Economist terms Jugaad as the Indian way of doing business which has whipped quite a debate in the corporate world given the recent economic downturn. It goes as follows:
“Indians often see frugal innovation as their distinctive contribution to management thinking. They point to the national tradition of jugaad – meaning roughly making do with what you have and never giving up and cite many examples of ordinary Indians solving seemingly insoluble problems.” This was also ably demonstrated in the hit movie 3 Idiots, where Aamir Khan is seen to create an Invertor drawing power from the batteries of cars and in fact delivering a baby using a vacuum cleaner as a suction pump. Later in the movie, we also see other innovations from everyday material – scooter motor used for wheat grinding for example.
The point is that ‘Jugaad’ is almost always seen in a positive light by Indians, almost applauding someone for his smartness.
On the flip side, Jugaad has negative connotations as well. It could mean cutting corners, letting go of the aesthetic aspect for the sake of functionality to arrive at a sub-optimal solution. Speak to any advertising agency about client deadlines in India versus those in the west for similar sized campaigns and you will know.
Much has been made of savvy marketers using "crowdsourcing" to connect their brands with customers, and plenty of pixels have been published on the success of crowdsourced programs like Dell's IdeaStorm , Starbucks' MyStarbucksIdea , and The Netflix Prize .
Crowdsourcing is the practice of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from large groups of people and especially from the online community rather than from own employees or business partners.
Crowdsourcing was coined when in 2006, Wired magazine reporter Jeff Howe published a story about a phenomenon in which the power of large numbers of people was being harnessed to make things happen that was hitherto deemed impossible outside the auspices of corporations.
He talked about how a large number of people who were now able to take great photographs, thanks to their high-end but relatively inexpensive cameras. This enabled a new kind of stock photography to emerge. The traditional model in which only a select few photographers could have their work collected by stock photo agencies became redundant.
Crowdsourcing and User Generated Content in Indian Advertising
Back home in India, Crowdsourcing possibly dates back to Emperor Akbar asking all his subjects to provide solutions to problems. We all remember the tale of the stranger walking into Akbar’s court, challenging anyone to discover his true nationality. As the stranger was fluent in all languages and a master in geography, Akbar was at his wits’ end. Stumped, the emperor asked all his courtiers for possible solutions. It was ultimately Birbal who devised an ingenious solution- he woke the stranger up in the middle on the night and observed the language he expressed his shock in.
Modern India abounds with similar such examples. Zee TV’s serial “ Aap Bole HaanToh Haan, Aap Joh Bole NaTohNa ”was an innovation on television, an interactive show that allowed the audience to become a part of the decision making. Similarly, a channel urged viewers to vote for the Sunday afternoon movie they wished to see. The new Indian Rupee symbol is another significant example of crowd-sourcing, where designs were invited from the public rather than an official committee designing it.Tata Docomo did marketing WITH the consumers and not TO them. They involved users to participate in the brand building and executed one of the smartest crowdsourcing campaigns done in India. They used both Twitter and Facebook in a smart way with innovative ideas like ‘ dietalk ’, ‘ animation contest ’ to create new animation films for the brand. The winning entries went on air and their creators were given due credit.
Frito-Lay , Vodafone Essar and Nestlé are also among the growing number of advertisers who employed crowdsourcing to connect with their target audience.
Frito Lay launched a contest asking consumers to submit their suggestions for a new flavour of potato crisps to add to its portfolio. The brand then allowed web users to vote for their favourite from the numerous entries it had received, with the person behind the winning idea bagging a prize of Rs 50 lakh and 1 per cent of future revenues generated by the product. The entire exercise served its purpose of creating a buzz & fostering greater consumer engagement.
A similar exercise was undertaken when Vodafone Essar and Ogilvy & Mather ran a contest for Facebook users to watch a partially-completed ad featuring animated “Zoozoos" and suggest how it might end. A staggering 13,000 storylines were uploaded in response to the contest.
Nestlé India had also called for customers to reveal their real-life stories related to Maggi , the noodles brand, with some going on to appear on its packaging, and others being recounted in TV spots.
Himalaya Herbal Healthcare also rolled out an innovative marketing campaign for its hand sanitizer, PureHands where young, creative minds were invited to make a video for PureHands that highlighted product benefits in an exciting way. Engaging the world of social media, this innovative video contest was hosted by Himalaya on their Facebook page.
Risks& Rewards of Crowdsourcing:
For marketers, crowdsourcing creative services pose both great risks and rewards.
The rewards are that it is futuristic as it recognizes the power of the consumer. It is all about interactivity and transfers the reins of the brand to the consumer. Crowdsourcing can go a long way in building and cementing the bond between the brand and the consumer. It is a great way to access fresh, exciting ideas. The technology behind crowdsourcing makes creativity a social activity that knows no geographic bounds. The advantage that crowdsourcing offers is that a diverse group of problem solvers would almost always beat a homogeneous group of problem solvers
Risks related to crowdsourcing are manifold. Creative ideas are sought from consumers who have an opinion not necessarily expertise. Consumers mostly have no idea about the nuances of the brand world and while there might be radically new ideas, almost always, there wouldn’t be the logical step-up in a brand’s journey. That task is that of a professional agency and a professional marketing team.
More often than not, the 80-20 rule governs in case of crowdsourcing, as is seen in the content on YouTube and things like that, where 80 percent of the content is sub standard.
However, Howe says the antidote to the 80-20 rule is simply setting up crowd filters and tapping crowding voting. Dell IdeaStorm , which is just a modern-day suggestion box , receives about 9,000 ideas, and some 500,000 people vote on them. And what those votes do is drive the best ideas up to the top.
Harnessing Crowdsourcing to Deliver
According to Jessi Hempel of Businessweek , there are four basic guidelines for successful crowdsourcing:
Focus: It is significant to understand how crowdsourcing can help find answers to one’s business/communication objective. Focus is quintessential since vaguely defined problems will elicit vague answers. So one needs to set up clear objectives& success metrics.
Filter: Setting a filter in one’s own system or delegate crowdsourcing to an independent firm ensures only relevant ideas/info go through.
Tap into the right crowd: Smart companies want to assemble crowds with relevant knowledge about the problems they want to seek solutions through crowdsourcing. This leads to maximisation of impact by the small percentage of idea generators in the crowd.
Build community into social networks: Successful crowdsourcing taps into passion of the crowd that stretches beyond monetary compensation. The new businesses that are built on crowdsourcing meme are likely to have this aspect built into their business model. However, a business that wants to tap into crowdsourcing ideas will definitely need a ‘feed’ process or risk wasting all those ideas.
The question therefore is not whether the consumer will deliver or not but how quickly will businesses sift, fine-tune and finally adopt these crowdsourced ideas.
The word Amateur comes from the same latin root for ‘Amour’ which means for ‘the love of something’. There have been instances of consumers waking up to advertisers trying to get their work done this way. At the risk of sounding defensive, it truly boils down to businesses finding the balance between knowing when to tap into an ‘Amateur’ effort and when to leave it up to the professionals as it were.
(The author is Head, Ignite Mudra)
|THE SUCCESS STORIES
Frito Lay launched a contest asking consumers to submit their suggestions for a new flavour of potato crisps to add to its portfolio
Vodafone Essar ran a contest for Facebook users to watch a partially-completed ad featuring animated “Zoozoos" and suggest how it might end
Nestlé India had also called for customers to reveal their real-life stories related to Maggi, the noodles brand, with soem going on to appear on its packaging
Himalaya Herbal’s campaign for its hand sanitizer, PureHands, invited young, creative minds to make a video that highlighted the product benefits