I think you would find this article in The New York Times to be rather interesting. If you are too lazy to click the link, the article, “Social Media Are Giving a Voice to Taste Buds” notes how Frito-Lay is using Facebook to test new flavor ideas in lieu of costly focus groups. Frito-Lay has developed an “I’d Eat That” button that allows Frito-Lay to measure the popularity of various proposed flavors in different parts of the country.
This is an example of a company unlocking the true potential of social media. Think of how much it would cost to hold focus groups in California, New York, and Chicago to find out what flavors were popular in each region. And if a mega corporation like Frito-Lay (which can certainly afford focus groups) decides it is just as good to use Facebook, think about what good news this is for your business!
The article, written by Stephanie Clifford, notes, “While consumers may think of social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare as places to post musings and interact with friends, companies like Wal-Mart and Samuel Adams are turning them into extensions of market research departments. And companies are just beginning to figure out how to use the enormous amount of information available.”
Another great piece from the article:
“When Wal-Mart wanted to know whether to stock lollipop-shaped cake makers in its stores, it studied Twitter chatter. Estée Lauder’s MAC Cosmetics brand asked social media users to vote on which discontinued shades to bring back. The stuffed-animal brand Squishable solicited Facebook feedback before settling on the final version of a new toy. And Samuel Adams asked users to vote on yeast, hops, color and other qualities to create a crowdsourced beer, an American red ale called B’Austin Ale that got rave reviews.”
While your competitors are still toiling away at the old rules of marketing, you can use social media to engage your fans and conduct market research at the same time. Use this opportunity to brainstorm ways you can combine research and fun for your fans.
Think about it this way – you spend money on focus groups to tell you what your fans like. Why not just go directly to fans? The will feel like they have a stake in your company – this builds affinity and allows you the opportunity to connect with fans on a more meaningful level.
When fans buy the new flavor of chip that they voted for, they can say, “I helped make this possible.” Something to think about this weekend!
Until next time…