Brands using crowdsourcing to create a new breed of brand loyalist
The evolution of shopping online has been multi-faceted and needless to say, has forced retailers to majorly rethink their marketing strategies. The integration of brands in social media has broken down formerly impenetrable barriers between retailers and their consumers; communications between the two now flow easily and are also visible to the general public.
But this isn't just a benefit for the consumer. The Internet is now a simple and cost-effective way for brands to find out exactly what customers want. This is not just consumer integration but also consumer decision-making through crowdsourcing.
A number of online retailers are asking consumers what items they want to actually go as far as the production line. Of course this makes the consumer feel involved and important but it's also fantastically cost-effective for brands as they will be providing products they know people want.
A long-term advocate of this process is the T-shirt retailer,Threadless. It provides options for T-shirt designs and relies on a customer voting system as to which will be made. Other retailers have refrained from the voting route and instead, showcase a wide range of products and only make or buy them in when they're ordered. For example,made.comsells furniture in this way, and cosmetics giantLushdoes this for its online only 'Retro' range.
With this new ability to make demands from brands, it seems consumer's expectations are much greater. 44%* want to go beyond what is up for sale and actually take part in the co-creation of products. This is definitely crowdsourcing at its most personal.
Australian site,Shoes of Prey, allows people to design their own shoes, thus creating bespoke footwear for the consumer and in tandem, limiting resource and product wastage on the part of the retailer.
Long gone are the days when 'custom made' and 'bespoke' were words for the wealthy; limited edition pieces are now mainstream and accessible. Through crowdsourcing, brands are creating new brand loyalists by making the World Wide Web a much smaller place, to the benefit of the consumers' needs and the company's profits.
*Source: Weber Shandwick/KRC survey of over 200 top executives at Fortune 2000 companies