Walkers Asks Customers to “Do us a Flavour”

Walkers Asks Customers to “Do us a Flavour”
Scott Lachut, PSFK Labs
  • 21 january 2009

During the summer of 2008, UK-based Walkers, makers of potato crisps (chips for our American readers), asked their customers to help create the company’s next flavor with their “Do us a Flavour, Pick us a Winner” competition.  And though contests are nothing new, this one is modeled a bit differently. Not only does the winner get bragging rights as the taste’s inventor, but they also receive 50,000 pounds in prize money and 1% of future sales in the new product – an unique opportunity to truly feel apart of the Walker brand.

After receiving “zillions” of entries (according to the website), Walkers has narrowed the field down to six choices that they have made available in stores, leaving the final verdict in the public’s hands with a popular vote taking place online and through mobile devices. A smart move that encourages further engagement with the brand as both consumer and judge. And giving customers the feeling that they have a stake in a brand’s decision making process and ultimately in determining its success, might be the most important part. The Independent explains:

The truth is, getting one million people to engage with your brand at a level that goes much deeper than a single moment at the point of purchase creates a very different sort of customer relationship. In fact, your customers become much more than customers; they become partners. And, at a stroke, Walkers is seen as a company that respects its customers enough to cede some brand control to them, to give them a sort of co-ownership in the product.

It’s a mirage, and we know it. But though Walkers isn’t letting its customers run amok with its brand, it recognises that brands now have to open themselves up for the public to engage with, play with, manipulate and, crucially, have fun with.

The whole process has become democratised. Consumers are already demanding interaction with brands, and they’re not waiting to be invited to participate. If they’re not appropriating brands to make their own YouTube films with, they’re blogging on them, or creating Facebook pages dedicated to their love of them, or criticising them before a potential web audience of millions.

Brands can ignore all of this (bad idea) or join in and encourage it (good idea). And since brands have become public property, Walkers clearly reckons on using the public as its product development team; consumer as brand architect (and therefore brand advocate).

And in case you were wondering, our money is on “Builder’s Breakfast” to walk away with the grand prize in the end.

The Independent: Claire Beale on Advertising: Walkers’ customers turn brand architects

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