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Make Your Consumers Work
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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We've been highly critical about the decision-making of consumers lately. With the rise of crowdsourcing, and brands using "everyday" consumers to help design and conjure ideas for products and services, we felt that taking a step back and analyzing the major follies of crowds was necessary.

But, after further study and observation, we have come to realize that there can be a method to the madness of crowdsourcing. The reason does not include giving free reign to crowds, but it does provide a certain level of creativity and freedom.

Let us explain.

Originally, we have touted again and again that letting groups decide things on their own is an awful way to go for brands. In the case of creating advertising and marketing activities, that opinion stays the same. But when we look at the advertising and marketing function of engaging the consumer, namely after the promoting and awareness activities are complete, there lies room where crowds can gather, and thrive.

The Center for Advanced Insight calls it the "pride of creation."

Behavioral economics suggests that people are more inclined to appreciate and favor goods, services, and ideas that they create themselves. Yes, if the only difference between Product 1 and Product 2 is that Product 1 was designed by the consumer, the consumer would more than likely choose Product 1. That research suggests that the pride of creation is fostered because the consumer had to work for the product. There was an experiment that showed this: participants had to make origami cranes; one group had directions to make it, and the other group did not, making it more difficult. At the end, participants had to place a value on their work, determining what they would sell the crane for. Objective buyers would also place a value on the work. The result? Those who didn't have directions placed a much higher value on their work than the objective evaluators.

So what does that mean? It means that as marketers and advertisers, getting the consumer to put some work into gaining the product or service we offer will have its benefit. The consumer, if they are able to customize, tailor the product to their fit before purchasing it, will no doubt place a higher value on it. Now this isn't rocket science, but this does go against the current reigning thought of "convenience is king." 

But there is a balance that must be met. Making the consumer work too hard could cause disillusion, claiming that it's not worth the effort. 

So there is actually a great benefit to using crowds to customize. Using crowds the right way can build a very loyal following.

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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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