Matthew Slutsky
February 21, 2011
BuzzBuzzHome Corp.

Would you like a one bedroom and den at 700 square feet, or 550 square feet? Would you like a basket ball court as an amenity or no amenities at all? Would you prefer a two bedroom split-plan, or side-by-side bedrooms?

When designing a condo and the unit mixes, the builders and architects have to make a lot of decisions, but traditionally look to previous projects to make such decisions. That was fine and dandy back when focus groups and polling were very expensive, but with crowdsourcing becoming a common tool among major brands, why not utilize its ability on the condo market?

What is “crowdsourcing”? According to Wikipedia, “Crowdsourcing is a neologistic compound of Crowd and Outsourcing for the act of taking tasks traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, and outsourcing them to a group of people or community, through an “open call” to a large group of people (a crowd) asking for contributions.”

We have seen crowdsourcing used for product development in a multitude of different brands, from Ben and Jerry’s to Coca-Cola. Through crowdsourcing not only are you creating something with your clients in mind, but a brand is able to increase engagement, which allows people to feel part of the process, and as such makes people more willing to purchase from your brand.

At BuzzBuzzHome we have witnessed two small scale forms of crowdsourcing, both from the builder Cityzen with their Absolute World architecture contest to their “Name our Condo” contest, which resulted in the name Backstage on the Esplanade. Know any others? Please let us know!

We have also witnessed something that has driven me crazy for a long time, wasted questions on registration forms. Have you ever “registered” for a condo? Chances are that you have, either online or at a sales-centre. These registrations often are filled with questions about your preferred unit type, your preferred price-range, your preferred amenities, but the reality is that nothing is ever done with these answers with regards to building decisions, they are used solely from a sales perspective. Of course, this is often because these questions are being asked to late in the process, so why not ask them earlier?

Thanks to Mashable for their insight on Ben and Jerry’s crowdsourcing endevours:

Ben & Jerry’s is no stranger to fan feedback; some of its best-selling flavors were born from customer suggestions, but in 2010 it took the concept a step further with the “Do the World a Flavor” competition.

Fans were able to invent their own variety of the popular ice cream via a fun online “Creation Station.” Finalists won a trip to the Dominican Republic to see a sustainable fair trade cocoa farm and the winning flavor was produced as an official Ben & Jerry’s product.

The specific aim of the contest was to raise awareness for fair trade ingredients, and with around 10,000 new flavor suggestions from the U.S. alone, Ben & Jerry’s achieved that goal. We asked Sean Greenwood, “grand poobah” of public relations for Ben & Jerry’s about the “Do the World a Flavor” competition:

Why did you opt for crowdsourcing for the campaign?

It’s always a tremendous opportunity for us to tap into our fan’s passion, creativity and their own interpretation of “Peace, Love and Ice Cream.” Our incredible fans come up with some great flavors. Cherry Garcia, Chunky Monkey, Chubby Hubby? Ever hear of those? Yep, all from our fans. The crowdsourcing offers an opportunity for fans to participate and create some fun, and as Jerry says: “If it’s not fun, why do it?”

How was the campaign a success for you?

It was a tremendous global opportunity for us to talk about our belief in the fair trade model. Since then, we’ve been hard at work making our own flavors using still more fair trade goods and communicating Ben & Jerry’s commitment to transition to using all fair trade ingredients, globally, by 2013.

Do you think crowdsourcing will be big in the future as a way for fast moving consumer goods brands to engage their audience?

I think any chance that companies have to connect with their fans in a fun manner is golden. For us, in this program, crowdsourcing was the hot fudge, whipped cream and nuts on top of our sundae!

That is one heck-of-a-cool campaign, and something that I would love to see in the highly competitive condo-market.

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