Recently Glaceau engaged its followers via Facebook to define a new flavor. It is a classic example of a co-creation exercise with customers and has three qualities worth paying attention to:
Extends beyond the campaign: the video call to action to get folks to engage was posted on their Facebook page in September 2009. The entry period ended in late October. That is a classic 6-8 week "contest" cycle and is what many CPGs (or FMCGS - fast moving consumer goods) use as a best-practice time period fo focusing peoples attention. In November they announced the flavor and that they were down ot 3 recipes. This past week they revealed the winners, and the package design (complete with a blue Facebook logo-more on that in a minute) and the product hits shelves in March 2010 undoubtedly with much fanfare and paid media support. Glaceau has gone byond the standard campaign cycle of engagement and created many moments over at least 6 months to keep folks engaged. The co-creation has spawned a new product which I presume they have tested in ways they always do to feel re-assured that it has potential in the marketplace.
One reason they could do this is their 1.1m Facebook fans which brings us to...
Use Facebook as their platform: like McDonalds, iTunes, VSPink and some other brands, Glaceau is committed to Facebook and more importantly to their 1.1m fans (aka customers). They routinely offer them interesting offers and opportunties. And they try to be humans in the way they speak.
They did at least two other "activities" over a similar period both tied to celebrity or entertainment brands: Twilight New Moon and 50 Cent. That must have helped them with overall awareness tremendously as both have active fan communities within Facebook.
The kicker? They have made the new flavor, Connect - complete with the Facebook logo, into the profile image of the page. What a terrific reminder to everyone that they are embedded in the Facebook world. And a great example of extending the Facebook partnership beyond the media buy for the year.
Commitment to Co-creation: they actually created a product from the experience.The engagement last year was a mix of crowdsourcing and co-creation. here's how Mashable explained it in September:
"The app itself doesn’t exactly give you the ability to mix flavors together to create your own, but instead lets you monitor social media buzz on the top 10 flavors in contention. It pulls in social chatter from Google News, Twitter, Flickr, and Foodgawker, which means that your tweets, blog posts, searches, and images could all help nominate a flavor for consideration. The more chatter on a flavor, the more likely it will make their final top 10 list. Once the social buzz has been tabulated, app users will be able to vote on their favorite flavor, starting September 14th.
The most interesting aspect of the app and social media marketing campaign, however, is the bottle design. Starting on October 5th, you’ll have the opportunity to use the app to design the entire label. This includes look and feel, your own spin on the flavor blurb (ever notice how funky the flavor blurbs are?), and the be all end all flavor factor — the name. You can work in teams with up to two additional Facebook friends, and the winner will be decided by Vitamin Water and their celebrity partners."
What I don't know and would love to is how many votes were cast and if that was in anyway statistically relevant and decisive in the selection. The ultimate winner was chosen by the brand. Presuming they did their own flavor focus group testing, it would be interesting to see how consistent the Facebook data was to whatever qualitative testing they did.
They are supporting a new product in the marketplace that their Facebook fans developed. That si the story. Many co-creation ideas fizzle when the brand reveals they are not willing to follow through with what the community points them to or do it in a half-assed way.
It will be interesting to follow the rest of the story - how the product fairs and how Glaceau puts a value on their rigorous use of Facebook engagement.