Tara Hirebet
Jul 10, 2013

Crowd cracked: Brands should support the wisdom of crowds

Using the wisdom of the community for the benefit of the community.

Crowd cracked: Brands should support the wisdom of crowds

In 2013 and beyond, as more Asians from the bottom to the middle of the pyramid gain access to the vast knowledge and communal clout of the Internet, they will become increasingly ‘e-mpowered’ netizens or online citizens.

They are utilizing the wisdom, crowdsourcing ability and group clout of the internet to 'crowd crack'—to work en masse and even real-time to find communal solutions to their country’s and city’s most pressing social and urban problems and crises.

As a brand, you have a unique opportunity to use your online voice, reach and influence, as well as the tools and resources you own or have access to, to support and encourage these passionate community members. And show you are a fellow citizen truly invested in your community.

It’s all part of being a purpose-driven brand, with a higher purpose, which is what most of the brands and campaigns that won at Cannes this year (especially the Grand Prix winners and winners in the effectiveness category) had in common.

Driving this trend:

  • Overburdened or ineffective institutions: Ineffective infrastructure and public services, government corruption, and increased awareness of health and safety scandals means that more Asian consumers than ever are determined to leverage their own problem solving power to get things done sooner and faster.
  • Governments, not gods: Today’s generation realize their governments are human and politics aside, they are dealing with massive populations and demographics like never before. Netizens are therefore stepping up, collaborating and being a part of the solution.
  • Nimble networks: Online, communities can form, adapt and share in a near instant and in real time, due to the rise of social media and real-time editable cloud tools (e.g. Google Drive). Making CROWD CRACKED solutions quicker to materialize – and to change around new circumstances – than those needing to be discussed and then imposed from the top down.
  • Sense of community: Asians have a particularly strong sense of responsibility and duty to their society. As such, they see problems as shared ones that everyone needs to be innovative, resourceful and work through together to benefit the community as a whole.

What's next?

Here's three ideas for your brand to build on 'crowd cracked' situations and solutions.

1. Provide platforms of transparency and truth

Consumers trust other consumers, who, unlike institutions, have no other personal or hidden agendas and also just want the truth. Offer platforms Asian consumers direct and own, where they aggregate what they see, hear and know. Or offer them a tool to track, map and share data in real time.

In Beijing, it is suspected that the government hasn’t always been totally transparent with air pollution (PSI) meters. As such, several crowdsourced apps and solutions have come to fill this consumer need gap. Launched in July 2012, FLOAT encourages Beijing residents to purchase US$15 GPS-enabled kites fitted with pollution sensors and LEDs that light up with different colors when they float in the sky depending on pollution levels. PSI levels are also crowdsourced onto a public map.

2. Give resources to passionate citizens with ideas

Bring different types of thinkers and communities together in an offline event or platform and give them the data and resources to just brainstorm, experiment and prototype new and innovative solutions to urban and social problems.

UP Weekend is regularly run by sustainable innovation agency Newton Circus on an urban theme or issue (Smart Cities, Environment, Health, Ageing and more). These events gather data sets from the Singapore government and private sector and put 'hackers' and anyone with an idea or solution in a room together for a weekend to see what innovative solutions they can come up with for various issues under that theme. This has been so successful that many of the solutions have been funded and implemented by the Singapore government.

3. Be the facilitator and the glue in crisis response

During the floods in Mumbai and then Manila, citizens turned themselves into a crisis-response network by proactively coordinating and sharing information on what was happening with people and areas on Google Docs. This made relief efforts far more efficient. As a brand with the relevant tools and reach, Google saw this innovative response in Manila. And now in Uttarakhand, India, they’ve stepped in with their Person Finder tool: a directory and message board of missing and found persons, which they crowdsource from the public and rescue service shared documents.

If you are a brand in Asia today, show you are committed to your community by providing today’s changemakers and netizens with the resources and encouragement they need to make an impact and a difference. In turn you will stand out as a truly different and impactful brand.

Tara Hirebet is head of Asia-Pacific at Trendwatching.com, "an opinionated trend firm that scans the globe for the most promising consumer trends, insights and related hands-on business ideas".

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