Editor’s Note: The New York Times article on how brands are utilizing social media for research certainly made waves in the research community this week. Personally, I found it to be one more piece of evidence in the case that yes indeed, the game has changed and brands are increasingly turning to new approaches that deliver both insight and brand impact. It’s been a crazy week for me so I haven’t been able to address this myself, but thankfully David Bauer of Hemispheres Research has written a great piece on the lessons we all should take from the example of Frito-Lay cited in the article. This is a great post and I hope you’ll join me in thanking David for guest posting on this important topic!
by David Bauer
Frito-Lay is in the midst of a Facebook contest (Do us a Flavor) where participants can create their own flavor of potato chips with a chance to win $1,000,000 and have their flavor become reality. Recent NY Times coverage details this program and similar ones created by other companies. When done right, these programs can provide an abundance of new ideas that can serve as one more input to the Insights, Marketing, and Innovation teams. I think Frito-Lay has executed this program well and other companies should pay attention when developing their own initiatives. Here are some of my thoughts based on their program:
1. Have a simple objective. In this case their main goal was to collect flavor ideas. Social participants are only likely to provide “snack-size” bits of information so don’t expect them to share too much at a time.
2. Bring their ideas to life. After participants submit a flavor idea, it is instantly applied to a Lay’s package with an appropriate image. I’d love to know more about this programming that summons the right image for each flavor. I think this aspect makes the experience more engaging and fun and therefore encourages more involvement.
3. Provide instant feedback and encourage social sharing. People like collecting “likes” and this drives engagement and social sharing. In Do us a Flavor, participants can find out how many people like their flavor and from where in the country interest is coming. They can also share their flavor ideas with their Facebook friends to increase their “likes.”
4. Plan for distractions. As this is social media, there are plenty of people more interested in joking than snacking. Ridiculous flavors are in the mix. Frito-Lay has addressed this, as the default setting is to see the most popular first. Hit “randomize” and there you will see plenty of legitimate ideas along with “Bacon Milkshake,” “Powdered Donuts,” “Lobster Bisque,” and “Pickles and Ice Cream.”
5. Make Sense of It All. As with any research assignment, the toughest part is the brain work needed to sort through the data, remove the clutter, and discover the insights.
6. Hunt for Qualitative Insights. In the Frito-Lay program, each person can share a few thoughts about the inspiration for their flavor. I’m sure this has the potential to provide an abundance of ideas, but it will take some deep review (and hopefully good text analysis software) to tease out insights that may be useful.
7. Run on all devices. If the program is run through social, it needs to be optimized for mobile devices.
I think these social programs can be a valuable way to both gather insights and to market the brand. Companies should consider them as one of the techniques in their research tool-kits and learn from the successful programs leading the way.