Unleashing the Power of the Crowd for CPG and FMCG Brands

Packaged grocery brands operate in highly competitive markets. Crowdsourcing innovation and customer engagement are vital for CPG/FMCG brands.
Unleashing the Power of the Crowd for CPG and FMCG Brands -Crowdsourcing Week

Written by Clive Reffell

Nov 28, 2023

Packaged grocery brands operate in highly competitive markets where innovation and customer engagement are key. In various markets these products are often referred to as CPG (Consumer Packaged Goods), or FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods). Whatever the product sector is known as in your marketplace, harnessing the collective power of the crowd through crowdsourcing is proving to be a game-changer. In this blog, we will explore how CPG and FMCG brands are unleashing the power of the crowd to drive innovation and growth.

Crowdsourcing for CPG and FMCG Innovation: A Game-Changer

Crowdsourcing is the practice of obtaining input, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people, typically through an online platform. For packaged grocery brands, this approach offers a multitude of advantages.

Brand-owners can accelerate product development by tapping into a diverse pool of talent, both within and outside the company, to ideate and develop new products, flavors, packaging and marketing support. By going direct to people beyond an R&D team, the ideas are already aligned with changing consumer preferences in the real world.

Crowdsourcing also allows brands to gather market research insights into consumer trends, preferences, and feedback, helping them make data-driven decisions in product development and marketing.

The crowd can provide just as valuable feedback on packaging design, sustainability, and functionality, helping brands create more attractive and eco-friendly packaging.

When products are developed and are being brought to market, CPG and FMCG brands can engage the crowd in creating compelling marketing content, from user-generated advertisements to social media challenges, boosting brand visibility and engagement.

Crowdsourcing Success Stories in CPG and FMCG Innovation

Several successful examples highlight the transformative potential of crowdsourcing in the CPG/FMCG sector:

Sparkling water brand crowdsources influencers

Spindrift uses a crowdsourced network of influencers, who it calls “Spinfluencers”, to promote its products. In 2022 the Spinfluencers were the first people to taste the brand’s new flavours and post about them on social media. The strategy is part of the company’s approach to community-building. These fan-geared campaigns have cultivated a loyal following among sparkling water drinkers.

Spinfluencers receive free products and are invited to exclusive virtual and in-person events, like flavor tastings and cooking classes. There is a constant stream of people who want to join them. Spindrift constantly asks its social media followers for their reactions to new products and potential ideas.

There is now a platform that brands can use to identify appropriate social media influencers that match their brand values and target audience, and that influencers can use to identify brands that will enable them to create new income streams.

Lay’s “Do Us a Flavor” Campaign

Unleashing the Power of the Crowd for CPG and FMCG Brands -Crowdsourcing WeekSince 2012, Lay’s has increased its U.S. sales of potato chips by inviting consumers to create and vote on new flavors. The company uses the brand name Walkers in the UK, where the Do Us a Flavour competition began in 2009.

This on-going crowdsourced initiative has led to unique, consumer-inspired flavors and increased brand engagement. U.S. customers were incentivized to participate in the crowdsourcing by an opportunity to win $1 million. In return, the company has captured far greater benefits.

PepsiCo’s “The Mountain Dew DEWmocracy Challenge”

In 2008, Mountain Dew began engaging a crowd of key supporters to help create and select the next flavor of their soda. The second iteration of the initiative that began in 2009 was a seven-stage, 12-month consumer-driven campaign, which enabled more than 4,000 of the brand’s most loyal fans, (referred to as DEW Labs members) to co-create three new Mountain Dew beverages. The brand and consumers collaborated on all areas of product development including flavor, color, name and package design.

Almost a year later, three contending Mountain Dew beverages were on shelves for eight weeks, providing all fans of the brand with an opportunity to taste each of the flavors and cast a vote for their favorite.

Nestle USA’s prize competition for staff

Since 2017 Nestle USA has been leveraging its 30,000-strong food-focused workforce to spark fresh innovation through its New Business Ventures group. Nestle recognizes that food tastes evolve rapidly, and with a culture built around the creativity of its employees it is able to keep up with changing tastes and preferences. The group partners with teams across the organization to encourage ideation of “what if” projects, encouraging anyone to vote on new CPG/FMCG innovation ideas and submit their own through its in-house Open Channel. By September 2022, 9,000 employees had submitted concepts leading to 23 innovative product launches.

Supermarket chain Coop Denmark lets customers crowdfund food startups

As Danes grow more interested in local and sustainable food production, the Coop Denmark supermarket chain provides a digital platform for its customers to invest money in small local food production projects. The company offers two different types of financing solutions: reward funding or loans.

The food producers who succeed at the crowdfunding stage can progress to have their products sold in the Coop’s webshop, and possibly be stocked on supermarket shelves if there is sufficient demand.

Kraft Heinz’s “Kraft Heinz Project Play”

Kraft Heinz initiated a crowdsourced campaign to award funding to community sports initiatives. The crowd helped decide which projects received financial support.

Unilever’s “Open Innovation” Platform

Unilever leveraged a crowdsourcing platform to collaborate with external partners and innovators, accelerating product development and sustainability efforts. In 2018 the corporation announced that it was investing €100,000 ($113,000) in crowdsourcing a new plastic-free, single-use laundry tablet. Being seen to address sustainability issues such as plastic waste helps consumers to establish a brand preference.


The power of the crowd is becoming a driving force for crowdsourcing CPG and FMCG innovation. By embracing crowdsourcing, these brands can tap into the collective intelligence and creativity of consumers, leading to exciting product developments, effective marketing campaigns, and sustainable practices. Crowdsourcing is not just a trend; it’s a transformation that can shape the future of these industries. As brands continue to embrace this collaborative approach, we can expect to see even more innovative products and meaningful consumer engagement in the years to come.

BOLD Awards 2024

The BOLD Awards celebrate innovation and breakthroughs in 33 categories of digital industries and the technology that powers them. The Boldest CPG Award is open to all consumer packaged goods (CPG/FMCG) brands that demonstrate exceptional innovation, quality, and consumer appeal in their products and marketing strategies. From food and beverages to personal care and household goods, this category highlights the best-in-class packaged grocery brands that have made a significant impact on consumers’ lives.

Unleashing the Power of the Crowd for CPG and FMCG Brands -Crowdsourcing WeekEntries must be complete by December 31st, 2023. You can start your entry now, and update and amend it as often as you wish before the deadline.

An initial round of public voting in January allows every entrant to mobilize their network of supporters, and the ones that make it to the shortlist of finalists will be invited to a gala dinner award ceremony in Venice, Italy, on March 22nd, 2024.

By then, a second round of judging by an international panel of experts will have arrived at category winners who will be announced at the event, and not before. The award ceremony is a unique event to network with other finalists, congratulate the winners, and establish valuable connections.

To assess the standard of entries, you may want to check out the winners and finalists from BOLD Awards 2023.

About Author

About Author

Clive Reffell

Clive has worked with Crowdsourcing Week on sourcing and creating content since May 2016. With knowledge and experience gained in a 30+ year marketing career based in London, UK, he operates as an independent crowdfunding advisor helping SMEs and startups to run successful crowdfunding projects, and with wider social media and content marketing issues.

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