Use Social Media to Develop Products like Vitamin Water

Jean-Francois Marquis    February 18, 2016

You probably already had one of these Glacéau bottled Vitamin Water, whether their most popular flavor ‘XXX’ or maybe the black cherry-lime flavor. Did you know that the black cherry-lime flavor was developed through social media?

Vitamin Water was created by J. Darius Bikoff in 1996 in New York City (USA). While on his way to a yoga class, Bikoff wanted a beverage to hydrate himself and rise his energy level… then he came up with the idea to create this energy drink.

It’s All About the Marketing Campaign…

Famously known as ‘Connect’, this black cherry-lime beverage was mainly developed by The Coca-Cola Company, owner of Vitamin Water, through their Facebook page with an impressive customer engagement campaign. More than 2 million fans contributed to this product development on social media.

The five finalists received a $5,000 prize for their involvement. One fan, Sarah from Illinois, was named the grand winner for finding the new flavor. She got involved in all aspects of the development, from the flavor to the packaging!

This type of customer engagement product development was previously used the year before by Ben&Jerry’s. The difference between their two campaigns is that the ice cream company did not use social media for the development, which is where VW distinguished itself.

Very Little Money, for a BIG Impact!

Since its debut, social media has proven to be a great way to reach customers in the comfort of their homes… Newspaper ads, radio & T.V. commercials and ad displays have been expensive ways of promoting products. Social media is gaining more and more popularity with marketers to reach thousands, if not millions, of customers with very little money.

With Facebook Ads, and a budget of $10,000, you can reach up to 8.4 million customers. With more ‘‘traditional’’ medium like newspaper ads, it would cost much more than $10 K to reach that many people.

Vitamin Water invested in social media to extend its brand offer… a product made for its fans by its fans on Facebook!


FlavorCreator: The Real Time Flavor Monitoring App

Vitamin Water developed a real-time flavor monitoring app for the contest. The FlavorCreator app is able to track in real-time the 10 most popular flavors with customers. This app was put in place to receive flavor ideas from fans. Using its fan base to ‘replace’ regular corporate roles, such a product development, is called ‘crowdsourcing’.

Social media is a great way to reach customer and use crowdsourcing when asking customers to help develop products for companies. Once the top 5 flavors had been identified by the app, Vitamin Water started a voting contest to elect the best flavor.

According to Adam Ostrow from, Vitamin Water is no stranger to social media marketing. The company used it in multiple ways on many occasions. The beverage company has even used its Facebook page as a call-to-action on ESPN for a campaign with the NBA instead of its own website.

Here is an example of Vitamin Water using YouTube for product development:

Lessons for Others

Widely used for crowdsourcing, social media is now taking a bigger place than ever for product development. Using fans to develop products they will consume is a genius idea on multiple aspects. Not only it creates a buzz and enthusiasm around a product, but it is also a great to ‘connect’ with customers and actively engage with consumers.

When VW was created back in 1996, social media did not exist and Internet was still marginal and in its early age. The company has evolved and developed new tactics to develop its brand and to reach more customers.

Successful product development necessitates time and involvement. Companies who commit to crowdsourcing, in developing products by listening to their customers, will most likely still be there doing business in the years to come…

Organization: Vitamin Water
Industry: Beverage Retail
Name of Organization Contact: Lisa DeWitt, Sports Marketing Manager, Glaceau Vitamin Water (Greater NYC area)

Authored by: Jean-Francois Marquis

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