How to Use Crowdsourcing for Product Innovation

How to Use Crowdsourcing for Product Innovation Interestingly, while 85% of the 2014 Best Global Brands have used crowdsourcing in the last ten years, many product managers remain wary of the practice. While there are some legitimate concerns, they can be addressed in how the crowdsourcing campaign is set up. Product managers will benefit both their own career and their organization’s health by learning about how the various types of crowdsourcing can assist with product innovation.

Benefits of Crowdsourcing

There are dozens of benefits you can gain from crowdsourcing your product innovation. Whether you use these outside ideas to develop new products or to improve existing products, you’ll see a lot of improvements in your process. Here are just a few of the benefits you’ll realize:

  • New Perspectives. Crowdsourcing brings in ideas from outside your department and organization, and that allows you to get entirely new perspectives on the problems you face in product development. These new perspectives make the process more innovative naturally.
  • Avoid HIPPOs. Crowdsourcing helps you avoid the highest paid person’s opinion (HIPPO).  HIPPOs are typically leaders that are so confident that they don’t need ideas from others or data to affirm their instinctual beliefs. They rely on their past experience and are quick to dismiss contradictory opinions and input from subordinates. When you crowdsource, you reduce the influence HIPPOs typically have.
  • Eliminate Groupthink. When teams are intent on keeping the peace and not rocking the boat, they can fall victim to groupthink. This is where no one is willing to disagree or offer constructive criticism because they don’t want to cause problems. Using crowdsourcing eliminates groupthink.
  • Increase Demand. The process of crowdsourcing increases your brand visibility and lets your customers and prospects know that you’re developing a new product or service. This creates excitement about the new product and increases demand.

How Organizations Use Crowdsourcing to Innovate

Many organizations use crowdsourcing to innovate for product development. One example is Anheuser-Busch, who was struggling as they lost customers to the popular craft beer companies. They decided to survey 25,000 consumers for feedback on a new flavor. Not only did Black Crown beer do well because customers liked it, but the process also created a buzz for the company.

Another example of using crowdsourcing to innovate comes from Lego. Many young Lego customers remain fans well into adulthood, and the company decided to take advantage of that enthusiasm. Their crowdsourcing business model allows customers to submit designs for new product sets, using existing Lego bricks and pieces. When a product submission reaches 10,000 votes from other fans, it gets a formal review from the company and may be made into an official Lego product.

In both cases, the companies harnessed the power of existing customers to create something new. The new products are well-received because they were sourced from customers. Additional brand recognition occurs as the companies spread the word about their crowdsourcing initiative.

How to Get Started Using Crowdsourcing in Your Organization

Setting up a full crowdsourcing campaign has a lot of steps, but here are a few to get you started right away.

  • Choose a problem to crowdsource. Decide if you want to develop a new product, or improve an existing one. Decide which product would be a good choice.
  • Get stakeholders involved. Developing or improving a product involves a lot of stakeholders. Make sure the product team, marketing, sales, and other relevant parties are aware of the crowdsourcing initiative and provide their input.
  • Choose a crowdsourcing method. There are over a dozen different crowdsourcing methods. Choose one, and then choose the best platform to implement the program. A proper platform and disclosures will help you sidestep many of your security and legal concerns.
  • Prepare to analyze a lot of data. One of the benefits of crowdsourcing is that you get more perspectives. Unfortunately, that also means a lot more data than usual! Make sure your data and analysis systems are ready to receive and understand the suggestions gathered.

Using crowdsourcing for innovation has been an option for a long time. As the marketplace gets increasingly more competitive, innovative ideas will need to come from a larger variety of sources. Crowdsourcing is the way to both stay competitive and stay in touch with the heartbeat of your customers’ desires.

For more information about using crowdsourcing for innovation in your organization, download our Crowdsourcing for Product Innovation Whitepaper today!


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