Social Co-Creation – Vitamin Water’s Social Media Product Innovation Experiment

Mirza    July 5, 2011
Vitamin Water’s social co-creation experiment – newest flavour created by Facebook fans

Organisation Name:Glaceau Vitamin Water

Industry: Food and Beverage 

Web references:

Description of how social media is used for Product Innovation / Product Development:
Vitamin Water’s latest flavour (a black cherry and lime flavoured drink), was developed and named by the brand’s Facebook fans and one Facebook fan won $5,000 for her role in developing the new product.

The competition was interesting and unique in that it used Facebook fans to develop all aspects of the product:

  • Choosing the flavour–  A great example of using a community to help sort and rank ideas in a product developed  / social co-creation process. Fans couldn’t create their own flavours from scratch, but could influence the top 10 flavours and then vote for the best.
  • Designing the packaging– when the winning flavour had been selected Facebook fans were able to use the app to design the packaging – the look, the wording and colours used on the label. Fans could collaborate with up to two more Facebook friends to develop the packaging and the final winners were chosen by a panel of Vitamin Water experts.
  • Naming the product – Facebook Fans were asked to name the product. The team who created the winning name would be given a prize of $5,000.

Traditional focus groups and research panels can be an expensive and limited exercise in customer insights and engagement – using social media  for a crowdsourced approach by engaging  your customers and fans to help to develop your product can be not only beneficial to the brand in creating brand advocates it can also be just plain fun and exciting word-of-mouth.

Using experts from the brand at critical input stages by choosing the original flavours that could be shortlisted and then selected, and reviewing and agreeing on the winning product design and name gives this co-creation process a sense of order and legitimacy from the brand itself. The Facebook audience was used to help shortlist and select the flavour to be produced, and to create a range of options for the design and name of the product itself.

Many brands would be anxious of allowing consumers to create a product like this, but at every stage the brand and consumers were playing different roles and doing different things and so working with them in a controlled but creative way like this can yield great results.

And for the more than two million Fans of of the Vitamin Water Facebook Page, they feel like they have had real involvement in the development of the new product. That’s two million people who feel ownership of this product. Two million potential purchasers of the new black cherry and lime Vitamin Water.

Lessons for others:
Product Development using Social Media need not be an exercise in apprehension – by keeping the crowdsourced process controlled yet fun and exciting so that the Facebook audience feels that they’ve contributed in a real way to the development and design of your product – you not only create brand ambassadors – you have influenced that many more purchasers of your product.

Submitted By:Mirza Baig, Student, University of Waterloo: Social Media for Business Performance Course

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