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4 Brands Tapping Consumers for Ideas & Inspiration

More brands are turning to young consumers to get creative ideas for campaigns, products, design, stories, and more…

When we asked young consumers what brand has the best ads, Dorito’s edged out the competition for the top spot—and getting consumers involved in their now annual Super Bowl campaign was one reason why. The brand’s annual fan-submitted commercial campaign is a huge hit with Millennials, who we’ve found want to be a part of brands’ creative process. Many mentioned the fan involvement in Dorito’s advertisements as a positive: one 29-year-old male told us, “Their ads are very creative, and they engage with the fans. I love that!” and a 26-year-old female explained, “They have pretty memorable, funny ads. I also think it’s great that they have hosted contests to get fresh ideas from fans.”

Turning to consumers for creative direction, product ideas, and more has become a go-to method for generating buzz for some (think Lay’s annual flavor competition) and a way of doing business for others (look at Glossier’s community process for developing products). We also know it’s something that young consumers like: In our recent Ypulse Quarterly report survey, 77% of 13-34-year-olds told us that they like when companies crowdsource ideas. We also found that 83% would be interested in participating if a brand or company let them help design a new product, and 92% believe brands should get consumers like them to give their opinions on products before they are created.

Lately, we’re seeing more brands take them at their word, and tap consumers to co-create products, provide new ideas for entertainment, and more. Here are four recent, creative, examples:


Last year, Kotex opened a pop-up shop—all inspired by one young consumers’ Tumblr post. For one weekend only The Period Shop provided curated products to make periods a little more bearable, including comfy attire, beauty items, food and snacks, and home goods. The pop-up was part of Kotex’s “The Period Projects” campaign, which hopes to “change the way people think and speak about periods and, of course, the way they shop for them.” The idea came after an FIT student blogged on Tumblr calling for “a space we can feel comfortable and respected during an otherwise sh*tty time of the month.” They paid homage to the post with an entire wall dedicated to showing how the shop started. But that wasn’t the only time they tapped consumers on social media for creative ideas in 2016. After a college student tweeted out to encourage her followers to donate extra period products to homeless shelters, the brand teamed up with for a nationwide drive based on her idea.


Universal Cable Productions is tapping into Wattpad’s user-generation fiction community for TV show ideas. Utilizing Wattpad’s ability to mine through over 300 million original stories and identify trending themes, stories, and writers, UCP will be developing TV projects in hopes of drawing in a younger audience, “who are now growing up in a world where there will be many more options for entertainment.” Universal will also be turning to the platform’s 45 million readers to receive instant feedback on scripts.


Target is putting its future in the hands of kids as it tries to “regain its former cool.” Last year, the brand introduced Cat & Jack, a new children’s label to replace the retail giant’s childrenswear brands Cherokee and Circo. To come up with the designs for the brand, Target “went straight to the experts,” consulting over 1000 kids online and through focus groups. The result is a line of “optimistic, modern, wholesome, inclusive, fun” clothes created by kids who say, “I want to stand out in my pack,” and are more collaborative than competitive. According to a Target researcher, “The kids told us: I don’t want shirts that say, ‘I Win, You Lose.’ I want shirts that say, ‘We Got This. ’” But they didn’t stop there. Now they’re launching a new fashion line for Gen Z with the help of some young online stars. Art Class was created for four-12-year-olds, and social media influencers—like an eight-year-old surfing prodigy and a 10-year-old viral dance star—were consulted during the design process.


Mattel is tapping into TV—and young consumers—to find the next hit toy. Their upcoming competition series The Toy Box will challenge inventors to create playthings with industry vets as mentors. A panel of young influencers, including Sophia Grace Brownlee and Noah Ritter of Ellen fame, will judge their creations. Think a mini, adorable, Shark Tank panel. At the end of the series, each week’s best toy will compete in a final showdown, with the winner to be manufactured by Mattel and sold exclusively at Toys R Us as soon as the final episode airs.

To download the PDF version of this insight article, click here.