Kickstarter for kitties
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Crowdsourcing platform for cat lovers explores new product lines for pet food brand
Earlier this year cat food brand Meow Mix launched Catstarter, a feline-focused version of the popular crowdsourcing platform, Kickstarter.
The platform launched with three different products for pet lovers. Instead of backing projects financially, visitors simply click on their favourite innovation to vote for it. The winning designs will be made by Meow Mix and distributed to randomly selected fans who have entered for a chance to win.
The first round of votes has just finished and Hot Keys - a heated companion keyboard - is currently in production. Other options included Twister Dish - a food bowl which rotated to prevent uneaten food from sticking to its side - and #MealMachine - a food dispenser which could be activated to dole out cat food via Twitter.
Though voting is over, cat lovers can still get involved by suggesting their own ideas for the brand to bring to life. For example, Liz M has suggested Mouse Mouse: ‘a remote controlled toy mouse that mimics the movement of your computer cursor. So you can play with your cat when you’re busy.’
The project was created with ad agency EVB, San Francisco.
A winning combination / Cats and crowdfunding: It’s hard to argue with a formula so primed for internet stardom. Kickstarter recently hit a billion dollars worth of pledges and from Grumpy Cat to OMG Cat and every breed in between, felines rule the virtual world. It’s hard to see mixing the two together as leading to anything but huge success, especially as Meow Mix is no stranger to pouncing on entertainment trends.
The brand’s recent TV commercial parodied a celebrikitten of the net and Meow Mix has also produced a virtual reality cat TV series called Meow Mix House. It shows an astute understanding of what drives the web, demonstrating a brand with its paw on the pulse of what cat lovers are looking for.
Crazy for cats / The platform itself is aimed squarely at a niche audience - absolute cat addicts. Catstarter demonstrates that the brand utterly understands the wider experience of life with a feline beyond the feeding bowl while also helping Meow Mix stand out from the humdrum of standard cat food advertising. Interesting to note, of course, that the two least popular options for people to vote on were the ones related to feeding - suggesting that Meow Mix may do well to not lean too heavily on that part of the cat ownership experience.
Opening up to the crowd / Catstarter is also a neat way for Meow Mix to test the public’s response to potential new product lines related to its central pet-food business, ensuring it need only make products that people actually want. And after having inspired people with the first round of creative thinking, opening up the competition to suggestions from cat owners demonstrates a logical progression of the original idea, opening up a new R&D channel in the process.
It’s a similar social business approach to Starbucks' My Starbucks Idea, which uses an online community of coffee lovers to generate new ideas and test out the imaginings of people within the business on the people who they’ll be trying to sell the product to.
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