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What We Can Learn from Frito Lay’s Do Us a Flavor Campaign

What does your product have in common with a potato chip?

Okay…maybe not much physically…unless you sell potato chips that is.

But – what Frito Lay did with the potato chip could provide inspiration and insight on how you can take your product offering to the next level!

For those of you who aren’t familiar with this iconic marketing campaign, Frito Lay launched “Do Us A Flavor” in the United States back in 2012. This campaign, which would become a winning annual contest, crowdsourced ideas for new potato chip flavors. 

The company’s goal was to reach and generate buzz among its millennial customers (18-34 age demographic) as well receive 1.2 million flavor submissions. Frito Lay hoped that doing so would result in a 3% increase in sales. The results blew the company out of the water. 

In the first campaign, the company received 3.8 million submissions, achieved over 22.5 million Facebook page visits and experienced a 12% increase in sales. In fact, the campaign was so successful that PepsiCo (parent company to Frito Lay) decided to launch the campaign on a global scale!

While it’s likely that your business is nowhere close to Frito Lay’s, that doesn’t mean that this campaign is nothing more than a fun case study to read about.

Here are 4 things every business can learn from Frito Lay’s “Do Us A Flavor” campaign!

Listen to your audience

For the majority of the people reading this, crowdsourcing new flavor ideas won’t work for you and even crowdsourcing for new ideas really isn’t possible. If you’re a roofing company, you can’t exactly crowdsource for a new roofing material to use. Or if you work in the medical industry, asking people what new drugs or services you should offer isn’t a thing. 

We get that.

But that also doesn’t mean that you can’t learn something about crowdsourcing from this campaign. And it’s this: listening to your audience and getting their input matters!

For one thing, you should constantly be wanting to improve to match what your customers want. And the easiest way to know what it is they want? Ask them!

Getting input on what customers like or dislike; areas of improvement they see for your business or offerings; what kinds of things they may want to see next or wish you offered, etc. can be highly beneficial. It allows you to ensure you’re pursuing ways to better serve your customers or clients. 

Second, allowing customers to have a voice and give input goes a long way! It shows them that you care about them and it makes them feel more confident in sticking with your brand and business. It builds trust

Even if you don’t go with everything or anything they say. There were certainly many flavors that were not chosen yet people still had fun in expressing their opinion and submitting their flavor ideas. It’s the sentiment behind asking for input that really counts. But definitely bonus points if you do it in a fun manner as Frito Lay did!

Know Your Audience

If you’re going to listen to your audience…you should probably know who you’re listening to, right? 

While Frito Lay’s chips certainly are enjoyed by people of all ages, this campaign was specifically geared towards those millennial consumers. Knowing this changed how Frito Lay set up and ran the campaign as well as connected the campaign to people. 

First, social media was a key factor here—especially back in 2012 when social media was really getting kicked up and going. Second, their target generation, ages 18-24, tend to be attracted to contests and more fun marketing campaigns rather than the traditional ads that older generations are used to. Nothing wrong with either way but knowing what your audience prefers is key!

For your audience, know things like: who they are, how they like to communicate and be communicated with, how to connect and interact with them, where they are and what they do. Simply figuring out these basics can do big things for your business’s growth and success!

Words Matter

Whether you’re writing an email, a marketing campaign, a website, a blog or anything in between, copy is important! Words matter. Not just what you say but how you say it, with what tone, in what manner, etc. You want to grab the reader’s attention and make them want to read or learn more in whatever context it’s in. The goal of good copy is to give people just enough to get them interested in the rest of what you have to say.

Now, Frito Lay could have easily come up with some campaign names such as “Choose a Flavor”, “New Flavor Search”, “Help Us Pick a New Flavor” or “Help Us Pick Our Next Hit”. All of which would’ve been accurate to what Frito Lay was doing. But do those entice you to actually care or want to learn more about this campaign? Probably not. 

But, how about, Do Us a Flavor? Now it’s…

    1. Creative with the use of a pun which catches people’s attention upon first reading or hearing it.
    2. Positioning this campaign as that Frito Lay needs people’s help. Sure, Frito Lay could do this on their own with their own R&D team, but the fact that they crowdsourced makes consumers feel more important and want to help

This campaign name is saying the same thing as the other names above, but in a much more creative and witty manner. Even if you aren’t writing a marketing campaign, the words you use to tell your story, grab consumers’ attention, interact with customers, or get your message across—they matter!

Long-Term vs. Short-Term Thinking

This lesson is taken from both the positive and negative aspects of the Do Us A Flavor campaign. After all, you can learn just as much (sometimes more) from the failures as the successes!

While the campaign was a hit, many of the winning chip flavors in various countries were later discontinued due to weak or insufficient sales. This shows that perhaps this campaign was more of a novelty rather than what customers really wanted long-term. 

If Frito Lay wants to go forward with this for the future, they’ll have to really uncover whether or not it’s leading to long-term brand loyalty or just short-term growth that cannot be sustained. 

Which is honestly what every single business has to balance between. In general, long-term growth is more important. However, this does not mean that certain campaigns or opportunities should not be sought after for short-term growth. It’s all about balance and what’s truly best for your business.

The important thing to remember is to always take a step back before diving deeply into one direction and make sure you understand how it could impact the future—either short- or long-term—of your company. Aim for long-term growth while still keeping an eye out for smart short-term opportunities.

Conclusion

In conclusion, while you may not have much in common with the B2C company of Frito Lay, you can sure learn a lot from this popular campaign of theirs. Not just for your own marketing campaigns, but for the success and growth of your business as well. 

Know your audience – who they are, what they want, and how you can best serve them.

Listen to your audience – allow them to have a say and give feedback.

Words Matter – utilize copy to entice your audience to want to hear or learn more.

Long vs. Short-Term – find a balance between long-term growth and short-term opportunities.  

Get in the habit of learning from other companies’ marketing tactics and strategies, you’ll be doing yourself a huge flavor….er, favor!