User Generated Beverages – What Can we learn from DewMocracy?

In December I attended the reception* for the Mountain Dew Dewmocracy event, and learned how Mountain Dew was using its fans to help pick a new flavor (or several new flavors) of the beverage. Personally, I love the idea of asking your customers what they want from a product and giving it to them. It is often the way products are made, but in this day of mass market and focus group watering down of the message, I liked that Dew went out to their fans and actually made them work for the product they want – that should ensure good adoption when the release the soda later this year.

The intent from the start was to activate Mountain Dew’s most rabid fans, the people that live the “Mountain Dew lifestyle” all the time, and get them to participate in creating the flavor, color, name, and creative for this drink. Mountain Dew took a flavor sample truck to 17 markets and found fans in those areas to test the 7 sample flavors, make video posts and document their experiences, and invite their friends. 50 fanatics from this process got home tasting kits, invited their friends and documented the experience on an included Flip video camera. Once they got that input, Mountain Dew created their own social network of 4000 core fans, and got them involved teaching them how the flavors were designed, picking the color of the drinks, the names of the drinks and even creating test graphic treatments and advertisements for the drinks, some of which you can see at http://12seconds.tv/campaign/dewmocracy.

Ultimately, it comes down to sales, so in April when the product hits the shelves, the 3 flavor ‘teams’ will get their friends to vote for their favorite, which becomes part of the line with a launch on Labor Day in 2010. The fans will design the launch campaign as well.
While this won’t be the first Social Media Community Designed beverage (that honor seems to go to Vitamin Water Connect), Dew’s effort did more to involve more fans, and had voting or fan participation at every stage, up until the launch.

This campaign has so many good marketing elements to it, so here are some lessons for your future marketing. (There are probably more elements I’m missing.)
Brand Loyalty: Showing fans you care and asking them to tell you the next product generates interest – especially among your most rabid fans.
Social Sharing: Use of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and 12 Seconds.TV and more got fans voting and promoting the entire effort.
Word of Mouth: The name contest required votes and followers on Twitter (see http://twitter.com/509Cyclone for an example). Many of these accounts got 500 or more followers in just a few days. These people had to make a little effort to vote, and share with their friends. And the accounts interacted back with their fans.
User Generated Content: The 12 Seconds TV effort generated a number of very clever spots watched by hundreds or thousands of people.
PR: I’m writing about a soda I don’t even drink (since I’m decaffeinated.) They have a good story to tell the press.

Ultimately, though, we’ll see how many sales rack up with the 3 test flavors, and whether “everyone gets a trophy” (they release all 3) or whether they keep one for launch on Labor Day.  I’m Interested in knowing how this ends. What else can we learn from efforts like this?

*Disclaimer: I was invited to the reception by Porter Novelli and Pepsico friends, but received no compensation for this blog post (other than a few hors d’oeuvres and some Mountain Dew samples at the reception.)
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2 thoughts on “User Generated Beverages – What Can we learn from DewMocracy?”

  1. What a great recap and thanks for joining us at the event. Yes, Porter Novelli is working with DEWmocracy for PR, but I am LOVING the idea of this campaign and how it's all been put together. It's been great to see the power really in the hands of the people, or the 'Flavor Nations' as they actually CREATE the next products. Looking forward to the final results.

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