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Crowdsourcing: Danger to Your Brand?
By: Andrew Turner
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As crowdsourcing becomes ingrained in marketing practices, the negative effect on brands increases. While there are many positive attributes associated with crowdsourcing, including increased consumer interaction and brand loyalty, the increase in the consumers’ autonomy inevitably causes the brand to suffer long-term.

The increase in consumer interaction with brands through social media platforms has provided marketers with a convenient tool to talk to consumers. However, the trade-off needs to be closely monitored. Coca-Cola wants its followers to design a new logo, Lays wants them to create a new potato chip flavor, and Chevrolet is asking them to create a new Super Bowl spot. Does this kind of access to product development and image seriously inhibit the brand?

By putting the brand’s onus on the public, we are taking the responsibility away from educated individuals. A lot of people are of the belief that customers know the brand better than some suits or hired hands. But do consumers read SWOT analyses and detailed marketing reports? Do they understand the changing demographic of a brand's target market? Are they able to adapt strategies accordingly? The short answer is, of course not. It is my contention that crowdsourcing has been successful as a marketing tool because the brand is in actuality giving the consumer less autonomy than they lead on.

As with all of these crowdsourcing ploys, there are a number of limitations and rules to follow. So when developing these crowdsourcing efforts, the designers are actually looking at several metrics and building the outcomes into the actual ploy. For example, Lays saw they could gain market share by introducing a new flavor and could concurrently gain brand empathy by putting the onus of coming up with a new flavor on the consumer; a compounded marketing effect. The fundamental problem with feigning consumer autonomy in this fashion is the inevitable backlash because, as with all empowered masses, when the illusion of power is taken away from them, they revolt.

If crowdsourcing becomes a prevailing standard in marketing practices, then the conversation is moot. But I think we can all agree that the crowdsourcing is a quixotic way to build temporary relationships, not to build a branding strategy around. Beware of the fallout. 


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About the Author
is a marketing professional, copywriter, and graphic designer from Philadlephia. You can contact him here.
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