Monday, September 20, 2010

Forecasting via Crowdsourcing

This week's Fortune has an article about how David's Bridal and other (unnamed) retailers are using or testing online games to forecast hot styles and plan purchasing. The company behind the Sold game (shown above) is FirstInsight, which is leveraging consumers' enthusiasm for such online activities to crowdsource reaction to potential or actual products. Soon FirstInsight will have its forecasting games on Facebook so consumers who are avid Farmville or Frontierville players will be able to play in ways that help marketers forecast demand.

This is a variation on the online prediction market (shown in Exhibit 10.7 on p. 180 of my new US edition) that more marketers are using to tap the collective wisdom of customers or employees or a combination of stakeholders who can "bet" on the outcome of events such as the date when a new store is likely to open. Although such tools are high profile in the political world, they're less well-known in mainstream marketing.

Want to see how Sold works? Try the demo here. Maybe the game won't allow retailers to precisely forecast demand, but it has potential to indicate relative demand (which item is likely to be among the most popular within a given product line, for instance). 

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