A big trend that has emerged in the past few years in marketing is for brands to reach out to their 'real' consumers, engaging their help in transforming or innovating with popular brands. Essentially, brands are hacking real life for further inspiration.
This goes beyond asking people what they think of your brand in consumer research studies; asking consumers to send in their favourite recipes to win product; or asking drivers with a particular brand of car to pitch up to shoot a commercial on a Saturday.
According to Ernst & Young, in recent years consumer product companies are putting serious investment into building closer relationships with their customers.
And brands are involving their brand fans in designing new products: a couple of years ago, a luxury German car brand asked their fan base to help design the perfect dashboard for the brand in an online project. There was no prize, they just tapped into customer innovation.
Kraft is the latest brand to engage with consumers in this way and Kraft Canada has launched a national talent search for Canada's Ultimate 'Food Hacker'.
'Food hacking' itself is a growing trend, according to Marketing magazine
which is all about talented home cooks giving everyday foods unexpected twists and in a hassle-free, quick and convenient way - no doubt inspired by the proliferation of cooking shows these days! Everyone fancies themselves a MasterChef.
Kraft Canada intends to employ the winner of its nationwide search as Kraft's "official food hacker" to develop new recipes and, of course, drive content on social media channels. The brand will give the individual a one-year contract, compensation and a food allowance monthly to inspire creative food hacking solutions.
According to Marketing
magazine, the idea behind the Kraft Canada campaign is to "amplify food hacks in stores and online and to help consumers spend more time with their loved ones and less time in the kitchen... We're looking for someone who is dedicated to food hacking, has a big personality, is open to trying new things, and loves to cook".
Entries closed on 5 August in Canada for the competition in which participants had to provide video submissions. There is already a social media account set up @FoodHacks
and the conversation is happening at #iamfoodhacks
on Twitter.Ernst & Young LLP
says companies must understand the shifts in consumer engagement; spending patterns; and how they interact with brands on social media. Innovation, which is the "lifeblood of brands" is risky: the right innovation can create value, the wrong innovation can destroy a brand. Out of every 100 new consumer products that come to market, 80-90% fail, says Ernst & Young.
So, building brand profile in advance for new product launches or services and maintaining that after the heady launch phase, is essential to product success. Social media can make it easier in engaging consumers in fun competitions, projects, and adding value to their lives in a myriad of ways - as well as building loyalty for the future of the brand.
I think it is also about treating consumers as individuals, with talents you can tap into, rather than just a homogenous mass under the heading 'consumers' on the brand plan!