When you think about organizations using social media to enhance their product development, what immediately pops to mind? For many of us, it’s Lay’s Potato Chips. Lay’s (and parent co PepsiCo) have run a series of campaigns (Do Us A Flavor, Pick A Flavor, Flavor Swap) where chip enthusiasts from around the world are encouraged to suggest the next great chip flavour. And with great incentive – the innovator behind the winning flavour receives either $1,000,000 or 1% of sales, whichever is greater!
Millions of flavour suggestions have been collected, from confetti cake batter, to turkey club, to french onion soup. Essentially, once suggestions are collected, flavour finalists are developed, promoted and sold in stores, and again the public is asked to weigh in and choose the winner.
While Lay’s has produced and distributed over 20 “crowdsourced” flavours to date, including Mango Salsa, Fried Green Tomato, and Korean Barbecue, the winning flavours have included:
- Cheesy Garlic Bread
- Wasabi Ginger
- Southern Biscuits and Gravy
- Crispy Taco
Why Use Social Media To Aid Product Development?
PepsiCo launched the very first “flavour campaign” for two primary reasons:
- Increase engagement with millennials (18-34 year olds)
- Increase sales
And while this campaign focused on product development it was as much about creating social buzz, drumming up excitement, and engaging customers than it was about finding a great flavour idea. Their innovative use of social media, not only achieved their original goals, surpassing their engagement goals and sales targets, but delivered the following additional benefits:
- collected valuable data and insight into customer preferences and purchase behaviours (at a low cost)
- substantially shortened the product development cycle, launching a new product in 10 months versus the usual 15-20 month time frame
- reduced R&D costs as product development functions were crowdsourced online
In addition to the millions of valuable, potentially delicious, and sincerely submitted flavour suggestions, these campaigns received many, many parody submissions like:
- Unicorn Barf
- Sausage Party
While these submissions likely enhanced the online engagement and popularity of this campaign with the target audience, social listening and data sifting tools needed to be finely tuned to ensure valuable time wasn’t spent considering these “joke” submissions.
Lessons for Others
PepsiCo’s “Do Us A Flavor” and other flavour campaigns are hallmark examples of how an organization can use social media to help with product development and innovation. With a sense of humour and finely tuned listening skills, a brand can work together with their customers to create something fun, profitable, and delicious.
Industry: Consumer Packaged Goods
Name of Organization Contact: Jennifer Saenz, SVP, Chief Marketing Officer at Frito-Lay North America
Authored by: Kristy G.
If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site, please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Program Director, Social Media for Business Performance.
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