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Crowdsourcing 101

First off, kudos to Chevrolet for even trying.  As this Wired article explains, the GM brand was innovative enough to try crowdsourcing as a way of renewing interest in Tahoe SUV.  I realize SUV's tend to be some of the more high-margin vehicles out there, but was this really the best test of the crowdsourcing model?

Despite the state of denial some car manufacturers seem to be in, it's fairly clear that SUV's aren't exactly the most exciting, innovative products out there.  Sure, the price of gas isn't approaching $3 a gallon right now, but it's still not cheap.  Further, according to this FT.com article, and it seems to be a consistent message in other reports, "the SUV market in the U.S. now appears to be in long-term decline."

It seems to me that the best product to feature a crowdsourcing initiative around would be one with the following characteristics: new, sexy, innovative, not widely known about, etc.  I don't think any of these apply to an SUV.  Why wouldn't Chevrolet try this with something more edgy?   Oops.  I forgot.  We're talking about GM.  What hot new vehicles have they produced in the last 10 years?  Anyone?  Anyone?

Bottom line: I think this sort of ad creation technique will become very popular.  It's an inexpensive way for advertisers to encourage and let their customers speak for them.  It's a blow to the ego of any ad executive, but the smart ones will figure out how to make it part of their portfolios.

Comments

jtt

Good points, well made and I have to say I think you've got it. But as the WIRED article pointed out, although the SUV market is shrinking, GM is capturing a bigger share of it thanks in part to the brisk sales of the new Tahoe you mention and its sister the Yukon. You may be right about the SUV market going away and I think that is clear in the mid-size utes such as the Ford Explorer, the Chevy Trailblazer and the Toyota mid-utes that all seem to be struggling for sales. But the big utes that are often purchased for more practical reasons may still have some life left in them. After all, the Chevy Suburban is a vehicle that has been around since the 1930's.

I do take slight exception on the hot cars produced by GM in the last 10 years. I realize that is a question of personal subjective taste but I need only go back to the beginning of 2006 to point out the Chevy Camaro that won best of show in Detroit (now in design for production) and the Saab Aero-X that won best of show in Geneva. And I assume you were not able to see the Buick Enclave concept at any of the auto shows (to be revealed in LA as a production car today) as by almost any measure (including every review I have read) it is a stunning design with an elegance to the interior that really did make you wonder "was this made by GM?" (or this is a buick? isn't that the car my grandpa drove?). I've driven mostly asian cars my adult life and have liked them but I have to say that starting with the Chevy Tahoe you write about and going forward this year, every car that GM has put out has shown dramatic improvement in design, style and fuel economy and I just have to give credit where credit is due. Somebody is doing something right there because it is starting to show...enough that I think there is clearly some kind of transformation going on inside GM.

Joe Wikert

Thanks for weighing in on this. Yes, I'm highly biased against GM (and Ford, btw). Although GM may have won an award or two in the last few years, I think sales volume is the real measure of success. The press might give out an award but consumers vote with their wallets. Based on all the insane rebates and other giveaways the U.S. automakers have been offering it's clear they're not winning the battle or the war. I'm extremely happy with my two Hondas that are now 3 years old.

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