Asking Customers for Ideas
Comedian Paula Poundstone once offered the following insight:"
Adults are always asking children what they want to be when they grow up--it'sbecause they are looking for ideas.
"It's an amusing notion that might even have a bit of truth to it in these challengingeconomic times when many people will have the "opportunity" to consider secondand even third careers. And it's also an interesting notion in terms of innovationand business success. The idea that we might ask others, including strangers, fortheir thoughts on the right products, services and solutions for us to offer, or thebest practices and experiences that might accompany them. And I'm guessing thatmany of you are doing this already. Asking colleagues, vendors, customers,friends, neighbors, former classmates and others for their suggestions on ways toimprove your businesses.In this light, Walmart's recent"Get on the Shelf " initiative was a clever test of the
value of asking customers for product ideas and the power of crowdsourcing todetermine their likely popularity. It was also a great way to generate a lot of socialmedia attention. And in the end, after receiving more than 4,000 ideas from itscustomers--ideas ranging from the crazy to the purposeful--the company chosethree winners with real crowd appeal. But before we get to the winners, you mightenjoy a note about some entries that did not quite seize the day. Entries like "PeloNuevo"--a vinegar-based salad dressing designed to cure baldness. Or "Showels" --shorts made from beach towels that might have become this summer's pool andbeach sensation (accept for the fact that they left the judges a bit dry). Or "Scrats"--scarves that remarkably turn into hats.Okay, so you're not overwhelmed by a desire to buy. Well maybe the winners willinspire you.The Grand Prize clearly touched the collective conscience of Walmart's customers.It's called Humankind Water, a new brand of spring water that contributes 100% of