Vitamin Water’s latest flavour, launching in March this year, was developed and named by the brand’s Facebook fans. The black cherry and lime flavoured drink will be called ‘Connect’ and one Facebook fan, Sarah from Illinois, won $5,000 for her role in developing this new product.

The competition was interesting and unique in that it used Facebook fans to develop all aspects of the product:

  • Choosing the flavour – over the summer Facebook fans were able to monitor and add to buzz about different flavours. The more chatter about a flavour online, the higher it was rated on the Facebook page. And by mid-September the most ten talked-about flavours were put to Facebook fans for them to vote for their favourite. This is a good example of using a community to help sort and rank ideas in a co-creation process. Fans couldn’t create their own flavours from scratch, but could influence the top 10 flavours and then vote for the best.
  • Designing the packaging – when the flavour had been selected (in October last year), the Facebook fans were able to use the app to design the packaging – the look and feel, the blurb and colours used on the label. Fans could collaborate with up to two more Facebook friends to develop the packaging and the final winners were chosen by a panel of experts.
  • Naming the product - alongside the packaging and look-and-feel, Facebook Fans were asked to name the product. The team who created the winning name would be given a prize of $5,000.

This is a great example of co-creation and working with your customers and fans to help to develop your product. Using experts from the brand at critical input stages – choosing the original flavours that could be shortlisted and then selected, and reviewing and agreeing on the winning product design and name. The community was used to help shortlist and select the flavour to be produced, and to create a range of options for the design and name of the product itself. Many brands would be anxious of allowing consumers to create a product like this, but at every stage the brand and consumers were playing different roles and doing different things. It is true that some of the best and most intelligent people don’t work for your company (whoever you are) and so working with them in a controlled but creative way like this can have great results.

And for the more than one million Fans of of the Vitamin Water Facebook Page, they feel like they have had real involvement in the development of the new product. That’s one million people who feel ownership of this product. One million potential purchasers when it launches.

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