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In the all-encompassing world of social media, a growing number of brands are turning to consumers to help design new products. And for good reason: the internet and social media have given brands new ways to solicit feedback from their consumers and to involve them in product design and marketing.

There are a lot of things to like about consumer crowdsourcing but one of them unlikely to be the new 'Connect' VitaminWater from Coca-Cola subsidiary Glacéau.

As the name suggests, Glacéau turned to Facebook, where it now has more than 1m fans, to develop its new Connect flavor for VitaminWater. To promote its Facebook 'flavorcreator', Glacéau enlisted two of its celebrity endorsers, rapper 50 Cent and professional basketball player Steve Nash. The final outcome: a black cherry-lime flavored drink filled with eight wonderful nutrients and a healthy dose of caffeine.

Glacéau announced the drink on Facebook in true Facebook fashion:

unlike the never-ending debate over whether it's rock-paper-scissors or paper-rock-scissors, based on your votes and your designs, the latest flavor of vitaminwater has FINALLY been decided... introducing the black cherry-lime flavored vitaminwater named... connect! check out this new package- flavor & ingredients, name & label design- all inspired by you- our fans. it's got 8 key nutrients plus caffeine. thanks for all your help- especially to the grand prize winner Sarah from Illinois and the four other finalist http://budurl.com/q27w. vitaminwater connect will be available in stores nationwide in march this year- so until then, stay hydrated- and keep your eyes here for news, updates and special offers for connect, including a possible sneak tasting opportunity. and btw... it's rochambeau!

The crowdsourced drink's label sports a Facebook logo and has a description that may spark more than an electrolyte imbalance when read.

So what to make of Connect? Some seem to like the initiative. But I wonder how many of those who like it will actually rush out to buy the drink when it hits the shelves. My guess: not many.

The problem, as I see it, is that Connect is all novelty. There's nothing remotely interesting about Connect's black cherry-lime flavor, the eight nutrients it contains or the obligatory caffeine that's added. Which isn't surprising given that using VitaminWater's 'flavorcreator' Facebook app wasn't exactly a free-form exercise.

In short, Connect is indistinguishable from what Glacéau might have come up with on its own. And the less-than-creative name (Connect) and trite, trying-way-too-hard-to-be-cool description that adorns the label don't add much character. Perhaps VitaminWater Connect will make a splash, but I doubt that will have anything to do with the name or process, both of which I'd best describe as 'uninspiring'.

That said, there's no reason brands like VitaminWater have to utilize crowdsourcing in a more 'serious' fashion (a la MyStarbucksIdea and Dell Ideastorm). But as with social media in general, whatever they do, authenticity and creativity are prerequisites for success. Novelty? That's so 2008.

Photo credit: VitaminWater via Facebook.

Patricio Robles

Published 13 January, 2010 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

2419 more posts from this author

Comments (3)


John Paul Aguiar

I don''t use social media to find a good water..lol   I think some companies/brands are trying to hard to jump the social media wagaon.

Not all products will do well in social mideia,, so what do you do?  Use social media to reach your customers in a more costomer service way, not pitch or promote a product.

almost 7 years ago



Great comment, John!  Here's a post on some more infomration on remaining personable at http://www.gatewaybizdev.com/blog/2010/01/keeping-the-%E2%80%9Csocial%E2%80%9D-in-social-media/

almost 7 years ago

Jonathan Moody

Jonathan Moody, Freelance at Language4Communications

Using consumers via social media to develop new products (or services) / tweek existing ones doesn't necessarily have to involve setting up communities, celebrity-endorsed or other wise.

For many brands, products, services and companies there are comments in myriad social media, that when correctly gathered and analysed, can be distilled for insight into developing new ones or improving those existing. Branded communities can also provide this insight, but as recently pointed out in this blog, getting these to be sufficiently engaging is a tough call.

almost 7 years ago

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