Are Web 2.0 customers always right?

Online geeks hijack P for Product.
Source: flickr

Two recent examples of how listening to the much revered customer does not always go right – especially if they take over your marketing for you! And using Web 2.0 and inviting online junkies to define tactics …?

We’ll start in Australia. The Land of Plenty. This includes Vegemite, a yeast extract similar to (but definitely not the same as!) Marmite. The marketing department’s idea: let’s invite our customers to think up a new name for Vegemite. Were they mad? Or, as I suspect, was this a marketing stunt? The result: iSnack 2.0. Oh dear. Well, according to my sources the name was discontinued only four days after its launch. They’ll have to run down stocks. But as a Kraft spokesman said: “The new name has simply not resonated with Australians. Particularly the modern technical aspects associated with it.”

Ok, let’s see how community marketing and Web 2.0 works in another country: the United States. And how about letting customers design the next Barbie doll?

Pink programmer. Source: Mattel website screenshot

The question is though, who are these “customers”? Well, it comes as no surprise to discover that the people who voted in this “You decide” poll, are online and, er, therefore into computers. So what would they like the next generation of Barbie doll to become?

You got it: a computer engineer.

Well, that’s social trends for you. And technology trends for you.

Customers voted – and marketing listened. Carefully. Too carefully?

Just because Web 2.0 and involving customers is all the rage, doesn’t make it right!

Alex Woodruff

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