A seasonal drink, concentration beverage and after-lunch drink all found favor among the social media 'crowd', which itself proposed the ideas, as did a coconut tea flavor concept and packaging ideas including triangular cans and dual-chamber varieties.
Crowdsourcing ideas from the German public using a Facebook platform, Marc Schoeppner, Ball Packaging Europe product manager, said the firms scoped out the potential shape of the energy drink or trend beverage of the future might look like in terms of both formulation and packaging, and also what drinking occasions or needs they might cover.
Ball and Döhler also aimed to assess how active and interested consumers were in the process itself. How well did they understand packaging development, how good were their ideas, and could they be used in future at some stage in the innovation process?
Led by a three-person student team from the Technische Universität München (TUM) who used a Dosionair platform embedded into Facebook, the research took place in three different stages.
‘Need states and product concepts’ explored
Firstly, the team began canvassing ideas on need states and product concepts in Jan-Feb 2013, then taste concepts and ingredients (until late March) and packaging concepts (until late April).
174 people (43 men, 131 women) took part, 294 ideas were shared and 690 comments were made.
In each stage the crowd discussed different ideas and selected the best one by giving likes, and those with the most or best ideas were rewarded.
159 ideas were submitted for need states and product concept segment, of which the Top 3 were a seasonal drink (51 likes), concentration drink (41) and an after-lunch drink (37). Likes totaled 570.
In terms of taste concepts, 112 ideas were whittled down to a Top 3 of Coconut Tea (88 likes), the Hugo cocktail (60 likes) and Melon-Lemon (40), with 437 likes in total.
23 packaging ideas included a 200ml triangular shaped can (57 likes, a Ball mock-up of the idea is pictured left), a two-chamber can (53) and a coconut shaped container (49 likes, ball rendition pictured above), while resealability also scored highly among 242 total likes.
Triangular cans and cooling components
Consumers tried to ‘create’ a triangular can by bending a 250ml Rockstar can – so not the most scientific approach – but the idea scored highly due to perceptions that the shape would sit better in the hand.
A coconut-shaped can with a cooling component even invited the suggestion (in a comment) that the surface be fashioned to feel like coconut fibers.
Other ideas included a full-aperture cap that ‘makes a can like a cup’, small finger holes to allow for better grip, cooling devices around the can and several ideas in support of resealability.
Schoeppner told BeverageDaily.com that crowdsourcing was a cost-effective idea generation tool, though not all good ideas were commercially viable or technically feasible.
“Moderation is the key to keep the crowd focused. But there are limitations – it works in the ideation phase, but will not answer specific questions when you don’t have a crowd of experts,” he added.
That said the TUM project showed similar results to a paid market research project for a much lower cost, Schoeppner, said, and was a good means for B2B companies such as Ball to interact directly with consumers.