Saturday, September 8, 2012

Case Study - Crowd sourcing @ Mattel – Open Innovation & Collaboration with Customers

Mattel, Inc. designs and manufactures world renowned and best-selling toys and for more than 50 years Mattel had been innovating, designing new toys, reinventing the way children play with each generation and had launched new line of toys for its most popular brands like Barbie, Hot Wheels, etc. Creativity, Innovation, cultural heritage of the company and vision is a must for a company like Mattel to survive and develop the iconic toys for the children. Another critical success factor for Mattel is, the company uses innovation to address existing trends in today’s marketplace and transforms toys into sophisticated gadgets, bringing a new dimension to how kids play. Take for instance Barbie Dolls are portrayed with different careers like Doctor, Teacher, Marine, etc.  The quest for innovation have forced Mattel to adopt a new method of product development process in 2001 called Project Platypus conducted three times a year in which a dozen employees from all levels of experience, with various skill sets and backgrounds were assigned the task of ideating and developing a completely new brand in 12 weeks through intensive and unique brainstorming process. Outside speakers like comedians were brought in to entertain the team and they were given freedom of time to explore and create new concepts like Ello, Construction set for Girls. This is how innovation is fueled within Mattel internally along with its constant innovation and development process the employees engage daily. The company design center called Handler Team Center had undergone an internal design refresh in 2009 to create a more creative and collaborative work environment and currently features a ramp at the front door which slopes up from the parking lot, allowing full-sized Hot Wheels cars to drive right into the building.

Mattel went one step further and decided to engage their customers in their innovation and development of new toys and developing the existing toys even further. In January 2010, Mattel launched a month-long voting campaign open to anyone for Barbie's next career on, Barbie's Twitter and Facebook pages, in addition to a bus and billboard campaign in New York and more than 600,000 votes were cast during the voting. The end result was Computer engineer Barbie "won the popular vote" and anchorwoman won the girls' vote.  Since its inception Barbie went on to have more than 130 other professions, frequently reflecting or even predicting societal change. In September 2012, Mattel has announced an Open Innovation initiative with Genius Crowds to develop crowd-sourced product ideas for their most revered brands of Hot Wheels and Barbie bicycles for young children aged 4-6 years old and the company is asking its customers to provide innovative product ideas and actively engage in the innovation process. Through this platform the company is looking to maintain an open two way communication with consumers about their ideas and product needs by constantly exchanging ideas with the company. Along with crowdsourcing the ideas and creativity the company is looking to constantly stay in touch with and meet the needs of kids and their parents. The company continuously focuses on translating entertainment brands to toys and creates long-term, sustainable properties with global product footprints and relying on crowdsourcing for achieving this goal.