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How Wisdom Of Crowds Can Boost Your Sales

Relevant topics Archive, Strategy

  • Neuromarketing Principle:
    Consumers are more likely to buy a product if they know that other consumers participated in its development.
  • Application:
    Merely adding on the packaging/website that the product is customer-ideated will boost your sales.
  • In the modern world, we hear a lot about crowdfunding: it helps small and medium companies to generate a budget for their products and achieve popularity by promoting it via various Kickstarter-alike platforms. But what about crowdsourcing? While crowdfunding assists in gathering money for projects, crowdsourcing helps with getting consumer-derived ideas for new products. People tend to reject the practice of crowdsourcing, considering it as less effective. Judge the numbers: 9.65 million of Google search results for “crowdsourcing” versus 36.3 million for “crowdfunding” – demand creates supply, and the “shortage” for “crowdsourcing” says a lot.

    Crowdsourcing becomes more interesting if it can also bring financial benefits and boost your sales. How? By applying it wisely, of course.

    What is crowdsourcing and how does it work?

    Crowdsourcing is a way of developing an innovative product by utilizing ideas of potential consumers. The products may vary greatly, from a new taste of chips to the functionality of electronic watches. For crowdsourcing to work, several conditions should be met:  

    • the product/task is relatively simple
    • the participating crowd has relevant motivation and expertise
    • the way of collecting ideas has specific settings (e.g., a contest)
    • the activated crowd is big and diverse.

    But how is crowdsourcing beneficial to product development? Unsurprisingly, crowds are better in producing more quality ideas than one or two company developers. “Wisdom of crowds” is a well-researched phenomenon in psychology and neuromarketing, which shows that the decisions are more effective, reliable, and have lower lead-time if made by crowds. Even statistically, you have higher chances of getting a good idea if you use more people as a source of them. 

    However, don’t worry; not only the R&D department benefits from crowdsourcing practices. It can also boost sales. How so? People tend to believe that the quality of the product is higher if other consumers participated in its development. Salient attributes of the products lead consumers to certain beliefs about these products; for example, an organic food seems to be tastier if we know it is organic and handmade products are more attractive if labeled as such. If a product is developed by other consumers, it leads to the belief that it meets your needs better and more effective.

    How to make crowdsourcing boost my sales?

    Merely using crowds as a new way of developing a product is not enough to increase sales of the product. It benefits your R&D department, but marketers might benefit even more if they actually communicate to potential consumers that the product is crowdsourced. The recent neuromarketing study showed the effect: adding the line “customer-ideated” to the product’s description boosts its sales by almost 20%.

    So, how do you use crowdsourcing for improving your conversions?  On its packaging, mention how other consumers contributed and directly participated in to the products’ development. Add this information to the description of the product in the actual store or on the website. Make a landing page with the focus on the source (crowd) of the product. Perhaps make the process of your products’ development the focus of a social media campaign. Highlight this information as much as possible to make sure that customers will consider it while making a decision about a product and whether to invest in it or not.

    How big brands benefit from crowdsourcing

    In the original study, authors collaborated with a big Japanese company Muji to examine the sales effect of the crowdsourcing. They played around with the description of one Muji’s product Tag Tool: security buzz of the electronic part was customer-ideated. In a control group of stores, the product had a regular description; in the other experimental half, it was advertised as crowdsourced. Amazingly, merely the fact that the product was consumer-ideated increased sales by almost 20% in comparison with the sales of products with the regular description!


    PepsiCo crowdsourced the taste of its new Frito-Lays chips, Crispy Taco through their competition “Do us a flavor”. During the voting, the winning package and competitors had a sign “Vote for your flave!”. The taste received high grades from the consumers, having 4,7 out of 5 stars on its Facebook webpage.

    crispy taco

    LEGO has an ongoing contest of crowdsourcing ideas for the Legos on their website. LEGO uses that to both generate new ideas and validate the demand, as other users vote for these submitted ideas. This way, the world is now graced with LEGO for The Big Bang Theory and The Beatles Yellow Submarine.

    When you should not promote your product as crowdsourced?

    Of course, not every product will benefit from being crowdsourced or being promoted like such. It will be of little use for products that are too straightforward. What would be the point of crowdsourcing matches? It is highly unlikely that the fact that matches are customer-ideated will boost their sales.

    Crowdsourcing a too complex product also seems to be an over-kill. The crowd might know what it wants from a Lego set, but would rather leave an aircraft to select experts. A crowdsourced airplane might sound even a bit scary for customers when choosing an aviation operator.

    A product promoted as crowdsourced will signal about being a crowd-related. It works for common products, but what about luxury products, which are supposed to signal exclusivity? The mere fact of being crowdsourced will most likely decrease the signal of exclusivity of an item.

    Finally, it might be not a good idea to put “customer-ideated” label on your website if your product was not actually crowdsourced. It might be better for your company to actually use the power of crowds while developing the product to increase the chances of developing something unique.

    Take-home points

    • When using crowdsourcing as a unique selling point, make sure your product is not b) too complicated, c) supposed to signal exclusivity;
    • If point one is in place, merely adding information that the product was crowdsourced to your package/website should increase sales
    • Try to avoid adding crowdsourcing mark on your product in case it was not actually crowdsourced
  • How Wisdom Of Crowds Can Boost Your Sales
  • Reference:

    Nishikawa, H., Schreier, M., Fuchs, C., & Ogawa, S. (2017). The value of marketing crowdsourced new products as such: Evidence from two randomized field experiments. Journal of Marketing Research, 54(4), 525-539.


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