PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay North America division is a crowdsourcing pioneer, from shaping consumers’ ideas into winning Super Bowl ads for the Doritos brand to inviting fans to come up with flavor ideas that its R&D team can turn into new varieties of Lay’s Potato Chips.
Now in its fourth year, “Do Us a Flavor” is asking US fans (there’s also a Canadian version) not just for their flavor ideas but also for the story or inspiration behind them. This year’s version—”Lay’s Do Us a Flavor: The Pitch”—asks fans to “pitch” their best Lay’s potato chip flavor ideas and the back story through a photo, video and/or written description to bring the idea to life.
The public is invited to buy and try the trio of finalists’ flavors (Crispy Taco, Fried Green Tomato and Everything Bagel With Cream Cheese) from July 24 to October 8, and the winner will take home one million dollar grand prize.
Sarah Guzman, PepsiCo’s senior director of marketing for the Lay’s brand, shares insights from this year’s campaign in a Q&A:
How do you keep this campaign fresh and relevant after four years?
The thing that keeps it most fresh is that the people and fans behind program, each year we’ve run it, have had strong engagement. It’s because everyone has a great idea for the next flavor of Lay’s. It’s more than just the idea, it’s the story behind it. That’s why we called this year “The Pitch”—we wanted people’s stories and inspiration to come through as never before.
What kind of “stories” were you seeking?
How the story behind the flavor tells you about the people. Sometimes it’s inspiration from someone in their family or where they grew up, or from plans or dreams that they have.
It ranges from “I’d love to start a restaurant when I pay off my college loans, and this is what I’d like to serve,” or some are more nostalgic, such as a grandmother’s recipe and how it might taste on a chip.
What’s been the most popular flavor so far?
All of them have been popular. Every time we run this program there’s ultimately a winner that’s determined by voting. This year the voting is still underway. The first winner was Lay’s Cheesy Garlic bread in 2012; next was Lay’s Kettle Cooked with Wasabi Ginger; and two years ago was Lay’s Southern Biscuits with Gravy.
This year’s finalists are Lay’s Kettle Cooked Everything Bagel with Cream Cheese submitted by a woman in Gainesvile, Florida; Lay’s Wavy Fried Green Tomato; and Lay’s Crispy Taco.
How long are the winning flavors in the market?
Once we determine a winner there is a good chance we’ll bring that flavor back to market. We tend to bring back the winning flavors because they are so popular and people want to try them again. Right now, for this year’s campaign, these three flavors are the semi-finalists, and now is the time to try all three. We ask consumers to vote and pick their favorites to determine which of the semi-finalists will be the winner.
How does your product development team go about producing these crowdsourced flavors?
They love it. Our team really loves developing flavors, and one thing that’s so fun about this process is really trying to ensure that the flavor we develop tastes just like the dish that inspired the flavor. It creates a lot of excitement for our culinary and R&D team.
Get more insights in our Q&A series and suggest a Q&A via firstname.lastname@example.org.
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