#Vitalize with your personal Vitaminwater!

Amanda    October 23, 2014



Organization Name: Vitamin Water

Industry: Food and beverage

Name of contact: J. Darius Bikoff, CEO

Web references: Vitamin Water Facebook Page

Description of how social media is used for business performance:

It was Mohanbir Sawhney that said:

“To gain customer insights, we must understand that we are prisoners of what we know and what we believe”.

Inspiration can come from many places and companies can gain meaningful insights from interacting with their customers and critics which leads to improved and innovative products. Crowd sourcing is the process of getting better ideas from as many relevant people as possible. Social media is a great way for companies to take advantage of the ideas and opportunities for improvements that their customers can provide.

An important part of this process is knowing that there are various roles played by individuals who communicate over social media. There are those who create content, comment on it, seek insight from this information and observers. Speaking from a personal perspective, I know that I play a different role based on the type of product or service and this may be similar among individuals of various demographics.

Understanding the motivations and individuals who relate to your product is important for idea generation, screening, development/testing and marketing/distributions. All these things that can be sourced from social media interactions which can be used to create a successful product and ultimately a successful business.

Feeling inspired? Looking for ideas on how to be innovative? Listen to Gregg Fraley on Innovation and Creative Problem Solving here:

A great example of a well-known company that utilizes crowdsourcing is Coca-Cola. A quote from InnoCentive says:

“Its open-sourced “Shaping a Better Future” challenge asks entrepreneurs to create improvement-ventures for the project-hubs of youth employment, education, environment and health.  In addition, its “Where Will Happiness Strike Next?” series of short films and TV-commercials relies on the social media-input of Coke customers, contributing ideas about creating happiness. Coke also seeks crowdsourced online suggestions for marketing its products more effectively, once again tying social media to co-creation.”

So how do you take your customers ideas from…

In 2009, Coca-Cola owned Vitaminwater did just that via Facebook. They created an application called the “flavorcreator” through which Facebook users could create their own virtual Vitaminwater.

The “flavorcreator” allowed users to choose from various flavours in the application and Vitaminwater generated the list of the most popular options by using Google, Twitter, Flickr and foodgawker. The fact that participants have the power in their hands makes all the interest in them being able to contribute their ideas and provide companies like Vitaminwater with their valuable feedback.


Fans were involved throughout the process of this intriguing crowdsourcing event by creating their own beverages, voting and playing games. They were able to specifically vote on: flavor, ingredients, packaging and naming for the new drink. The person or a group of up to 3 people could win a grand prize of $5,000. Games were used to help participants evaluate which vitamins were needed most.

What was the result of this group effort? Success!

1. Vitaminwater’s Facebook fanbase grew from 400,000 to 981,000 in just one month. It now stands at more than 4.1 million.

2. They had near 10 percent of their fanbase at the time participating which shows the power of crowdsourcing. Vitaminwater was able to take advantage of the 10 percent of their fanbase that are active critics and contributors as opposed to being spectators or collectors.

3. A delicious new drink appropriately named “connect” with a delicious black cherry lime flavor.

4. The cherry on top for fans? iMedia Connection reports that “To cap off the flavor’s launch in March, vitaminwater gave away 100,000 free bottles of Connect to the first 100,000 fans who signed up for the coupon.

Need some help with getting started? Watch this video with David Edelman speaking about how social media helps launch a product.

Lessons for others:

Taking advantage of Social Product Innovation and the technologies associated with it can be done successfully. It’s not about the complexity of your campaign it’s about handing over the reins and letting the users of your product or service, run wild. In the process, companies can learn about the users of their products and gain meaningful insights that can help create and improve a product once it’s in the market place.


Other References: InnoCentive, Inside Facebook, SimplyMeasured, iMedia Connection, Marketing Mag, Innovation Management and Idea Connection

Submitted by: Amanda Ganie, University of Waterloo

To contact the author of this entry please email at: Amanda.ganie@gmail.com

If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Programme Director, Social Media for Business Performance.