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Crowd sourcing: The democratisation of needs among consumers

Over the past centuries since the term "marketing" was coined, marketers have been the ones who decided the fate of what was made available for people to buy.

They were the sole thinkers in communicating why certain products, services, or content would fit the needs of consumers.

Over the past few years, the marketers' monopoly has changed, and power now lies in consumers' hands through the crowdsourcing system.

The thinking behind this system is for consumers to band together and come up with ideas to build a product, content, or service that fits the criteria required by real consumers. Many businesses around the globe have started to adopt the crowdsourcing system in the hope of giving consumers the democratic power to decide the best products or services for themselves.

Especially in this age of endless connectivity, crowdsourcing has evolved into a whole new level through faster Internet speeds and accessibility.

Let's take a closer look at how crowdsourcing has changed recently, how it has been applied worldwide, and how it may be of great use here in Thailand.

When the term was first coined back in 2005, "crowdsourcing" was defined as outsourcing the thinking process to people outside the circle of marketers and their employees. By adopting this thinking, it is implied that only fellow consumers would know exactly what they want. It is the means to give democratic choice to consumers when it comes to new products or services.

To name a few successes with crowdsourcing, two businesses should receive honourable mention.

The first is none other than social-media giant Facebook. A recent interview released by a former Facebook data scientist stated that over the years the firm had been tapping into its users' psyche by figuring out ways to play with their emotions right within their own walls. This crowdsourcing technique was conducted discreetly in the background of 700,000 accounts without people noticing.

Facebook has been tweaking the feeds appearing on people's walls to display either positive or negative news to see if the type of news affects what people write on their walls or their moods. What it has found is that positive feeds make users' moods livelier and they post optimistically, while negative feeds resulted in foul moods and posts. This mood test was the sourcing of ways to prevent cyber-bullying through reactions of the Facebook crowds.

Another way Facebook has been crowdsourcing is to show the subjects different sizes and positions of adverts to determine the best possible way for Facebook to tweak its advertising display system.

The second successful case is not from any particular brand but a whole industry. The fact that the wearable technology has been gaining ground as essential consumer gadgets is the epitome of crowdsourcing.

These wearable devices from tech giants such as Google Glass, Samsung Galaxy Gear, and many more are turning the activity of users into a collection of information on what consumers like to do often, where they visit frequently, and when they usually take action. With this much raw data from users, these companies' database will be filled with voluntary indications sourced from a majority of people who are using these devices. The mega crowdsourcing from these users will give indications of how to improve the wearable tech in the future as well as help determine extra content or services that will suit the tech-wearer crowd.

For Thailand, crowdsourcing is a must, and Thais will be more than willing to help. Judging from Wave 7 online studies conducted by IPG Mediabrands with almost 50,000 people worldwide, Thais are very nice compared with other nationalities when it comes to crowdsourcing for improvement. Thais are 22 per cent more open than the rest of the world on average when it comes to working with companies online, as Thais do not mind being tracked by them.

For example, with the boom of digital TV, media or content providers in Thailand could adopt online crowdsourcing systems where storyboards or synopses of new shows could be spread to consumers through online means so they can help decide which show or content should go live. They could even ask groups of forward-thinking consumers to pitch ideas for content to be taken forward.

Even for basic services like airlines or communications, instead of coming out with products from marketers, why not ask the consumers to decide and come up with the new destinations, services, or packages they would really love?

This being said, Thais are ready take action to democratise their utmost needs. It is your task to bring them marketing democracy today.

Maas Virajoti is group head for strategy and innovation, IPG Mediabrands Thailand.


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