Crowdsourcing New Chocolate Treats

Published Jun-29-15

The crowd delivers inventive ideas to a multinational food company interested in enhancing one of its popular confectionery ranges.

Nestlé, Switzerland

The Story:

Crowdsourcing New Chocolate Treats Open innovation comes in many forms, offering enterprises and organizations myriad ways of tapping the intellectual smarts of the crowd. For example, there is technology scouting, R&D problem solving and prior art citation searches.

One popular approach, particularly for companies looking to see in which direction to head, is ideation contests. This open innovation method is a fantastic way to garner lots of ideas quickly and inexpensively. The potential advantages for companies are that for a small financial outlay, they may receive fantastic product ideas and/or concepts that help to spur their thinking.

Tapping Consumers for Ideas

Ideation contests are proving to be particularly popular with consumer facing firms who see nothing but solid common sense in liaising with their customers about what they would like to see on store shelves.

Customers invariably look at some of their purchases and wonder: “wouldn’t it be great if there was a version of this product that could do X?” Crowdsourcing and open innovation give them an opportunity to make these ideas happen and therefore impact what they will be able to buy (and perhaps profit from if their concept is successful) in the future.

One organization that has embraced all this is Swiss multinational food and beverage company, Nestlé. It has run a number of contests asking consumers for new product ideas or ways to enhance/augment current offerings.

On the Hunt for New Milkybar Products

In 2014, the company solicited ideas for a new product for its Milkybar range, a white chocolate confection available in numerous countries. The food giant is interested in creating a new Milkybar treat for children around 6 years old. In addition to being tasty and interesting to young kids, the new sweet had to "help mothers have a real quality time with them when they come back from school".

Tightly Scoped Challenge Brief

To steer creative minds in the right direction, Nestlé produced a challenge brief with a number of dos and don’ts. Among the don'ts were not to integrate toys, not to have recipes with too much fat or be linked to a mascot. Ideas came in from people living in 15 countries, and the top three were selected based on their originality and how they created bonding moments between mother and child.

The winning ideas were jelly pencils, a stick bar and Milkybar marbles. The creatives behind them were awarded between 500 euros and 3,000 euros (approx. USD $3,400). Nestlé praised the winning contributions, but has not yet revealed any details of whether the crowd’s efforts will be incorporated into a new product, though it acknowledges these new sources of inspiration.

Nobody Knows Where the Next Big Thing Will Come From

The food company says it is always interested in new formats, shapes, flavors, ingredients and textures for its Milkybar range. Looking for fresh sources of inspiration outside the R&D department may be one way it hits on a new blockbuster product.

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