Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Why I Like DEWlabs

An anonymous DEWlabs member answered the questions: What do you like most about DEWmocracy and DEWlabs.

Unlike many democratic actions, in DEWmocracy there are no losers. DEWmocracy is a brilliant idea from PepsiCo and the Mountain Dew brand. PepsiCo gets what it wants, a new product released under a trusted brand to an excited, vocal, and loyal consumer base. At the same time Mountain Dew’s demographic, generation Y and the millennials, get what they want… to feel important, influential, like their small voice actually counts. The collected fans of Mountain Dew get to help shape a product they’ll see on the shelves, produced by a brand they love. I get a sense of pride seeing my influence in a product that will make it to market. But here’s the kicker – what I like best about DEWmocracy – I think it represents the beginning of a shift in corporate marketing thinking. I think the brand team at Mountain Dew has come to care about the consumer more than simply caring if they are going to buy more soda. Sure, gaining market share in the interest of shareholders is still number one along with long term profitability etc. etc. But, I sense a subtle burgeoning respect for the consumer as individuals, a caring outside of future profitability, and I like that.

DEWlabs is the embodiment of the Mountain Dew brand’s new respect for the consumer. Sure, it is still a powerful marketing tool, but it also facilitates and encourages the exchange of ideas directly between the consumer and Dew decision makers. Members are asked for feedback, ideas, and decisions. And, though kept in careful check by the brand team, member decisions hold. In exchange for the viral excitement created by having “die hard fans” function in a limited decision making capacity, the Dew team has surrendered some of their control over the marketing process. Wisely, the power of the consumer decision makers is checked and balanced by the moderating team. As a corporate outsider, it has been fascinating to get a glimpse of what product development and marketing is like in the corporate world. I have paid close attention to the way the Dew brand team has run things, and I have learned a lot. Effective marketing isn’t a textbook operation; it is an intuitive science and an art. The world has turned social over the network, and so must marketing. Social network marketing is trickiest of all because of the dynamic volatile nature of the online community… the marketer has to be flexible and social with the very demographic they are marketing to. The risks/benefits are high. If things go good viral, success is huge… if the campaign turns bad viral the recovery costs are outlandish. Or, you might invest loads of money and find the campaign going nowhere, because the marketer lacks the ability to relate to, be social with, and INVOLVE their demographic.

What I love most about DEWlabs is that I can see this involvement, this surrender of control to the consumer in action, and I get to be part of that action. I helped brainstorm ideas for the flavor descriptors, names, and design of the new products. The DEWlabs community came up with the ideas that are actually being used. The voice of the fans really counts. DEWlabs proves that the DEWteam cares about the consumer outside of the immediate goals of marketing. They have taken the time to be genuinely social with us. They have listened to us when they didn’t have to, made us feel intellectually valuable, and given us power to shape the future of a product we love. Now, THAT is good social network marketing.

I agree completely. The coolest part about DEWmocracy is that it involves consumers in the marketing and decision making process.

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