It's been a few months now that we have been experimenting with a millenial collaboration panel. Basically, it's a panel made up of 40 college kids located on different campuses around the country who are collaborating with us on our teen brands. It all happens online in a social network-type environment. Every week we post a different stimulus, usually in a graphic format, from new product concepts to packaging to ideas on brand activation. Sometimes we ask them to answer questions on what they've been up to, what blogs they're reading or what they're carrying in their backpacks. These kids are what our research consultancy calls alphas, people who are slightly ahead of everyone else and are key influencers among their group. Because of that, the project took longer to set up than I had originally imagined. It was absolutely critical to find the right people. Going over their bios it's amazing the breadth of life experiences and interests.
I'm a huge fan of adopting a more collaborative approach to marketing. So, bringing this project to life has been a rewarding intellectual experience. I feel the days of the old focus groups are over. The feedback we get is a little glimpse in the minds of a fascinating demographic. We've been having fun.