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Five brands using crowdsourcing for product and marketing ideas

During a recent discussion about a colleague’s obsession with Lego I was informed of the toymaker’s forays into crowdsourcing new product ideas.

This isn’t a particularly new tactic and I’ve flagged up examples of crowdsourcing in the past, but it’s a topic that’s worth revisiting as more brands get on board.

So in order to inspire your own campaigns or product development, here are five other brands using crowdsourcing…


As mentioned in the intro, Lego has a dedicated site for fans and customers to contribute their own product ideas.

Other users can then vote for their favourite idea, state how much they’d pay for it and explain why they like it so much.

If more than 10,000 people support the idea then it goes to the official Lego review board who decide whether or not to put it into production.

The creations currently being debated include a replica of Batman’s Wayne Manor, the boat and shark from Jaws, and a red squirrel.

It’s a brilliant way for Lego to pilfer ideas from its own customers and test them among the wider community.


According to Dell, there have been more than 20,000 ideas submitted to its IdeaStorm site, attracting more than 740,000 votes and 100,000 comments.

But more importantly, more than 550 of those ideas have been turned into reality.

As one would expect from a global project, the ideas vary greatly in quality. One that was submitted recently simply suggested ‘WhatsApp for the web’, while others give very specific information for either creating new tech products or evolving existing Dell products.

Another neat feature are the ‘Storm Sessions’ that are described as:

Hyper focused idea generating sessions centered on a specific topic or theme and open for a limited time.


In 2012 Anheuser-Busch ran a crowdsourcing project to create a new beer.

It varied slightly from the typical consumer-led crowdsourcing projects as the initial recipes were created during a competition involving the brewmasters at Budweiser’s 12 breweries.

However more than 25,000 consumers were involved in the subsequent taste tests to decide the winning brew, so the wisdom of the crowd was involved at some point during the development process.

The ‘Black Crown’ variety came from the recipe created by the Los Angeles brewery and went on sale in 2013.


Unilever’s Open Innovation portal invites the public to submit their ideas for a selection of ‘challenges and wants’.

The challenges are all aimed at improving or modifying consumer products, such as coming up with a new way of cleaning up fat or reducing the amount of water used by a shower without harming the user experience.

People can submit their ideas for solving these particular issues, and if it passes the screening criteria then they could potentially be invited in for further discussions.

This type of collaboration is different to the previous examples as consumers aren’t able to contribute or vote on one another’s ideas, they simply submit their thoughts to Unilever and wait to see if they pass muster.

But even so, it’s an interesting example of a huge corporation asking the public to assist with its product development.


Kraft Food used crowdsourcing to devise the brand positioning for new Mini-Oreo cookies.

Despite being a commercial success the product did not have its own identity that was distinct from normal Oreo cookies.

To solve this issue, Kraft worked with crowdsourcing platform eYeka to ask its online community to design a poster or print ad that they felt defined what was unique to the Mini-Oreo product.

Kraft received more than 500 ideas from 42 countries and was able to identify 10 potential ideas for its new brand positioning. Several of the crowd’s creations were of a high enough quality that they could be used immediately for consumer testing.

Their work inspired the new positioning and global campaigns for the Oreo brand around ‘Bonding Moments’.

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