“Do Us a F(l)avor” – 3 Ways to Benefit from Crowdsourcing

Crowdsourcing campaigns enjoy great popularity. If you consider launching your crowdsourcing campaign, here are three ways to succeed...

17 Jul 2018 4436 Views

Written By Nina Lehre

And the Chips-Award of Lay’s this year’s “Do us a f(l)avor” contest goes to “Crispy Tacoooo”.[i] Recently, more and more companies have been engaged in crowdsourcing campaigns, thereby involving their consumers in decision making and innovation as well as in overcoming challenges to generate consumer feedback and create marketing concepts.[ii] Every year Lay’s hosts a contest, calling on their consumers to create individualized potato chip flavors of which the winning flavor will be available in stores for one year. Lay’s encourages their fans to share pictures of their created flavor on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, opening it up for competition. Consumers then vote for their favorite flavor.[iii]

Getting your consumers involved and interacting with them through social media is a promising approach to increase your online presence and create a lot of buzz.[iv] Implementing crowdsourcing into your online marketing strategy can be an effective way of capitalizing on these benefits.2 Social media has triggered consumers to strive for active participation which is reflected in sharing product and brand adventures, visible for a large number of users.[v] Involving your consumers through crowdsourcing in social media, is an opportunity to satisfy these desires and enables them to contribute to the product development process.4 Tina Mahal, marketing director at Lay’s also emphasizes that “[t]he way that brands marketed in the past was very much one way – what we wanted to do on Lay’s was, have much more of a two-way conversation with Lay’s”.[vi]

Lay’s took full advantage of actively engaging in their crowdsourcing campaign “Do us a f(l)avor” which becomes apparent by looking at their achievements:

  • 3,8 million submissions
  • Sales increased by 12 percent
  • Their Facebook fan base tripled
  • 955 million story impressions on Facebook [vii]

Do you also want to draw comparable successes from your own crowdsourcing campaign? Here are three ways to benefit from crowdsourcing on social media.

  1. Put the power in the hands of the consumer – getting your consumers involved

“What’s your $1 Million Flavor? Pitch us your tastiest Do Us a Flavor Ideas at Lays.com”.1 By offering a cash price for the winner, Lay’s turns its crowdsourcing campaign into a contest. The campaign authorizes customers to decide what they want to snack on and therefore gives them a reason to engage with the brand beyond the sold product.6 Idea competitions are one of the most effective ways to engage in crowdsourcing not least because of their ability to empower your customer base.2

You should keep in mind that the internet was made for customers and therefore assigns consumers more power than brands.[viii] Hence, consumers want to feel empowered. They strive for having an influence on product images and offerings. Crowdsourcing is a promising approach to realize customers’ perception of their own power as it expresses the firm’s interest for their contributions and ideas.2

In order to strengthen the customers’ voice, Lay’s campaign is designed to involve consumers in every way possible.[ix] Competition promotes the motivation to create own flavor ideas and assigns all consumers with a mouthpiece expressed in their voting, which leads to the feeling of having an impact and thereby makes the contest highly interactive. Everyone who shares, votes or comments, feels engaged in the campaign. Therefore, customers experience a sense of belonging to and identification with the company.6 This results in an improved brand image, an increase in brand engagement and enthusiasm which in turn will lead to consumers sharing their ideas online and spreading positive word of mouth.2

  1. Begging Conversations – leveraging on eWOM and Virality

„My sister is in the Lay’s do us a flavor contest! Go vote!”; “I Need Your Vote. Can you beat this 1 Million flavor idea?”; “Tell everyone you know to vote!”.[x] Do you also want to get your customers impassioned and enthusiastic like this? It is obvious that these Instagram posts will create a lot of excitement and will reach a lot of people through social media. Nowadays it becomes an increasing challenge to diffuse online campaigns, to create electronic word of mouth and to capitalize on viral marketing. But it is still possible, what the example of Lay’s shows us:

Through customers sharing their self-created flavor ideas on social media platforms, Lay’s was able to reach a lot of people with their campaign. The public, which was encouraged to vote for their favorite flavor through pushing the “I’d eat that” button, was getting curious about how the new flavors would taste like. Thereby the campaign established to beg conversations and gained a lot of publicity. This effect was even enhanced when the four finalists were promoting their own flavors throughout their social media circles in order to get the most votes. In this way, Lay’s was able to produce free and authentic marketing with remarkable online reach and additional exponential reach to the friends of friends and so forth. Word of mouth is beyond that generated through the introduction of hashtags which make the content searchable.[xi]

Crowdsourcing bears the potential to motivate your consumers to share their ideas through different social media platforms and channels with the public.[xii] Contests entail the advantage that participants tend to engage into sharing their ideas through videos, pictures, their own blogs or YouTube links in order to induce the public to vote for their ideas instead of stop being active after submitting them. The self-advertisement of contestants, the possibility to vote and the curiosity about the new flavors creates a lot of enthusiasm and excitement for your brand and is therefore very likely to result in electronic word of mouth and virality.[xiii]

Electronic word of mouth spreads virally at high speed. It bears several benefits, because it is perceived as more credible, authentic and relevant for consumers, leading to trials and acquisitions.[xiv],[xv] Your crowdsourcing campaign will make talking about your brand entertaining and fascinating for consumers and will trigger buzz and virality.[xvi]

  1. Let your fans own your brand – Allow customers a voice

“90% air and like 4 chips”, “Bucket of Tears” or “Blood of my Enemies”? That does not sound yummy! A reason for you to skip engaging into crowdsourcing because it seems to harm your business?

Not at all. Of course, it might happen to your firm that consumers prefer having fun and therefore engaging in mockery instead of offering a serious contribution. And this is even a very likely case because under the cover of anonymity people tend to cause trouble. You should be prepared for such cases and to break a secret: You can even profit from contributions making fun of your brand!8,12 Sounds impossible? Then let’s look at what Lay’s did:

Although some consumers have submitted incredible flavors Lay’s gave its consumers the freedom to create whatever they want to, encouraging comments no matter if positive or negative and thereby giving customers a voice. Lay’s is not taking things too seriously and therefore chose to play along and participate in the joke.11 On their own YouTube channel, they are publishing responses to some flavor suggestions in the form of jingles. In response to the flavor “Bucket of Tears” they asked its customers “[d]on’t you think that tears would make a better dip?”[xvii]

Once a crowdsourcing campaign has been published you will lose control and you will not be able to recapture it when negative unintended contributions occur.2 Therefore, it is getting important to continuously monitor and moderate what is going on, implying that you should keep informed about the content of communications in order to detect crises instantly. Additionally, it is beneficial to stimulate and respond to users’ contributions, to move the conversation into an intended direction.5

Consumer empowerment and enthusiasm, electronic word of mouth and virality – conditions which you have dreamed of for a long time suddenly reach tangible proximity. Now, as you have gotten rid of all your worries and doubts and are convinced of the several benefits of crowdsourcing waiting for you to get exploited, there is nothing left to say but:

Get your first crowdsourcing campaign started! Good luck!


[i] Lay’s (2017). Lay’s [Facebook], Available from: https://www.facebook.com/lays/ [Accessed 12 November 2017]

[ii] Bal, A. S., Weidner, K., Hanna, R. & Mills, A. J. (2017). Crowdsourcing and brand control, Business Horizons, vol. 60, no.2, pp. 219 – 228.

[iii] Today’s Business (n.d.) Do us a flavor and use social media: How Lay’s tapped into social media, web blog post available at: https://tbsmo.com/do-us-a-flavor-and-use-social-media-how-lays-tapped-into-social-media/ [Accessed 12 November 2017]

[iv] Chan, K. W., Li, S. Y. & Zhu, J. J. (2015). Fostering customer ideation in crowdsourcing community: The role of peer-to-peer and peer-to-firm interactions, Journal of Interactive Marketing, vol. 31, pp. 42 – 62.

[v] Hennig-Thurau, T., Hofacker, C. F. & Bloching, B. (2013). Marketing the pinball way: Understanding how social media change the generation of value for consumers and companies, Journal of Interactive Marketing, vol. 27, no. 4, pp. 237 – 241.

[vi] Johnson, L. (2015). How Lay’s is adding more social zest to its popular flavor-creation campaign, web blog post available at: http://www.adweek.com/digital/how-lays-adding-more-social-zest-its-popular-flavor-creation-campaign-163173/ [Accessed 12 November 2017]

[vii] Savarese, J., (2015). Lay’s “Do Us a Flavor” drives interaction and sales, web blog post available at:   http://sites.psu.edu/jessicasavarese/2015/11/19/lays-do-us-a-flavor-drives-interaction-and-sales/ [Accessed 12 November 2017]

[viii] Fournier, S. & Avery, J. (2011). The uninvited brand, Business Horizons, vol. 54, no. 3, pp. 193 – 207.

[ix] Kirkpatrick, D. (2017). Lay’s latest flavor contest lets fans cast votes via Snapchat, web blog post available at: https://www.marketingdive.com/news/lays-latest-flavor-contest-lets-fans-cast-votes-via-snapchat/447402/ (Accessed at 16 November 2017)

[x] #Dousaflavor (2017). #Dousaflavor [Instagram]. Available from: https://www.instagram.com/ explore/tags/dousaflavor/ [Accessed 16 November 2017]

[xi] Charleson, M. (2013). 8 Reasons why Lay’s Do Us a Flavour contest is brilliant marketing, web blog post available at: http://fiveminutemarketing.com/2013/08/8-reasons-why-lays-do-us-a-flavour-contest-is-brilliant-marketing/

[xii] Wilson, M., Robson, K. & Botha, E. (2017). Crowdsourcing in a time of empowered stakeholders: Lessons from crowdsourcing campaigns, Business Horizons, vol. 60, no. 2, pp. 247 – 253.

[xiii] Kozinets, R. V., Hemetsberger, A. & Schau, H. J. (2008). The wisdom of consumer crowds: Collective innovation in the age of networked marketing, Journal of Macromarketing, vol. 28, no. 4, pp. 339 – 354.

[xiv] Ferguson, R. (2008). Word of mouth and viral marketing: taking the temperature of the hottest trends in marketing, Journal of Consumer Marketing, vol. 25, no. 3, pp. 179 – 182.

[xv] Chan, Y. Y. & Ngai, E. W. (2011). Conceptualising electronic word of mouth activity: An input-process-output perspective, Marketing Intelligence & Planning, vol. 29, no. 5, pp. 488 – 516.

[xvi] Taufique, K. & Shahriar, F. M. (2011). Online social media as a driver of buzz marketing: Who’s riding? International Journal of Online Marketing, vol. 1, no. 2, pp. 57 – 67.

[xvii] Powell, S. (2014). Lay’s “Do Us a Flavor” – Crowdsourcing potato chips, web blog post available at: https://info.builderfunnel.com/inbound-marketing-agency-blog/lays-do-us-a-flavor-crowdsourcing-potato-chips [Accessed 12 November 2017]

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BrandBase | @BrandBa_se
Students from the International Marketing and Brand Management program at Lund University are the contributing authors for the BrandBase blog.