20 Oct

Open Innovation

The internet has opened the possibility of involving outside agents, such as consumers, to provide ideas for products for a company. Prior to the internet, consumers did not have a direct link to the decision makers in an organization. With the opening of the internet channel, consumers not only can, but want to, interact with a brand.

That interaction can take the form of:

  • Feedback – both positive and negative. Such as too much tomato sauce on a pizza, a picture of which is posted to Domino’s Facebook. Domino’s replied and apologized and gave a free pizza in return.
  • Requesting Features and Improvements – people using your product know exactly what it can and can’t do in a real life situation and what real-life issues they encounter, such as twisting cords on hairdryers (why don’t they fix that one?)
  • New Product Ideas – while using your products consumers might have product ideas, such as brand extensions with flavoring in cough medicine, or even totally new products.

Even with the internet, if gate keepers stop information flowing to the decisions makers then the company will not be able to benefit from the wisdom of the crowd. The wisdom of the crowd theory holds that the aggregate wisdom of a group of individuals is at least as good as any one expert. (Wisdom of the crowd, 2013) By channeling the ideas created from a group of individuals, a company is likely to get better solutions to problems or creative direction than from asking experts.

The problems with accepting consumer feedback can include:

  • The squeaky wheel – only people with issues complain, the vast majority of people are quite happy with the product but one person with too much tomato sauce is the only person getting the attention.
  • Some ideas will not work – for manufacturing, production, or other reasons. Being seen to ignore suggestions could be a negative.
  •  Crowds are sometimes dumb – ‘Snakes on a Plane’ was filmed because of perceived demand; however, it flopped in the box office.

There are many ways to interact with consumers online. Social media platforms tend to be the biggest and easiest to setup. A Facebook sponsored (company) page, Twitter feed, Google+ and Google Places. By providing mechanisms for feedback you can circumvent the consumer from venting their frustrations on sites you cannot control as easily, such as RipOffReport.com, Yelp, or others.


Wisdom of the crowd. (2013, October 20). Retrieved from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wisdom_of_the_crowd

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