Chocolate Bar Inspiration with the Crowd

Published Jun-09-15

A global food giant works with the crowd to take its thinking in new directions.

Nestlé, Switzerland

The Story:

Chocolate Bar Inspiration with the Crowd The volume of ideation contests is one illustration of the increasing popularity of open innovation. Companies are turning to crowds for a number of reasons, not only to come up with product innovations. By reaching out and talking to their customers, some consumer product companies are picking up insights into where they should be spending their innovation dollars and the directions they should be heading toward in the future.

Add Value to Our Chocolate Treat

A perfect example of the latter was Nestlé’s 2015 contest on the crowdsourcing platform Eyeka. The Swiss multinational food and beverage company was looking for ideas on how to make Kit Kat, a chocolate-covered wafer biscuit bar worth paying more for.

For years the confection has been marketed as the perfect sweet treat to enjoy when taking a break and this drove Nestlé's desire to get the crowd thinking about how to bring the chocolate snack “up a notch". This could either have been by enhancing the break experience, or by making changes to the product and/or the packaging.

Defining the Challenge

While Kit Kat is enjoyed by all age groups, Nestlé wanted the creative members of the crowd to consider the product in light of a particular subset of their audience - mid-high earning individuals aged 35 plus who are looking for better breaks in their busy lives.

By tightly scoping its brief, Nestlé increased the likelihood of receiving a greater number of submissions that were pertinent to its needs. One of the failures of some crowdsourcing contests is that their challenge briefs are too open ended, such that they receive a barrage of worthless ideas.

Nestlé greased creative cogs with a few hints of where the crowd should spend their intellectual capital. For example, in coming up with a more unique flavor, or sensorial experience or unique functional packaging solutions. The company was also very clear about the type of submissions that it didn’t want to see, such as: "Please avoid simple, over-used clichés (such as adding some gold to the package or over-used descriptions of flavors, like Vanilla Bean)".

As an appetizing inducement, prize money was up for grabs for the best ideas, including a top prize of €3,000 (approximately USD $3,275). Participants also benefited by displaying their talents to a global community.

The contest launched in January 2015 with a submission period of three weeks. A total of 181 people from 34 countries sent in submissions, which were pored over by a judging panel that included Nestlé representatives. Members of the Eyeka community were also able to vote for their favorites.

Among the winning ideas were a new chocolate bar design that allows people to consume single wafer fingers at a time, and a concept for creating an intimate connection with another person.

Catalyze New Thinking

There is no mention of whether the crowd concepts will actually make it into a new product, but that wasn't the point of the exercise. Nestle received a fresh bunch of great ideas at low cost that is inspiring its own R&D team.

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