“I think it's genius,” Ben Weiss, CEO and founder of functional beverage manufacturer Bai, Princeton, N.J., told FoodNavigator-USA. “If you tell me there is a way to get to consumers without the politics, bureaucracy and mechanics of the buying process—which also makes for a more authentic experience for the consumer—of course I'm interested.”
Five webisodes will air every Tuesday through Oct. 22 at getontheshelf.walmart, each under a different theme (Health & Wellness, Around the House, etc). Consumers will vote to determine each week’s winning product. At the end of the process, up to five products will be selected to be sold on Walmart.com, and one or more of these winners will be chosen as a grand prize winner to possibly be sold in select Walmart stores, based on the number of online pre-orders from customers.
This crowdsourcing approach is a mechanism that would resonate well with Millennial consumer
The contest format is much in the same spirit as crowdsourcing sites like Kickstarter, in which consumers pony up their own cash in support of start-up businesses and projects. Or, as Weiss puts it: perfect bait for the authenticity-minded Millennial consumer.
“This crowdsourcing approach is a mechanism that would resonate well with Millennial consumer. They’re looking for authenticity, for the soul of a brand,” he said. “To have their fingerprints on that brand and say, ‘I’m the reason that’s on the shelf,’ only helps the brand. To that end, I think it’s a fantastic idea.”
They’re looking for authenticity, for the soul of a brand
Last year’s contest drew more than 5,000 entries and more than one million votes. The grand prize winner was Humankind Water, with runners up Plate Topper and SnapIt eye glass repair kits.
Though Weiss is uncertain whether he'd have entered Bai in the early stages of the business, he says it levels the playing field a bit more for emerging brands.
“That’s essentially what Amazon is,” he added.
“Put the product online and let consumers choose whether or not to buy it. No distributors, no retailers. It’s very organic.”
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