2,349 crowdsourcing and crowdfunding sites
The platform utilizes the Want, Find, Get, Manage (WFGM) model, which has become increasingly popular in the open innovation field. It starts with identifying Mars’ ‘wants’ and asking individuals to submit potential solutions for the challenges. Then, dedicated team members look through the solutions to find and bring the best ones for development at Mars. The final management stage involves developing and implementing the idea into the existing product lineup.
To submit an idea, an individual must complete a relatively detailed application form, which begins with the terms and conditions every user has to agree to. Mars stresses that individuals who have not protected their ideas with patents should not disclose any critical information. Currently, Mars is looking for ideas in three specific categories: packaging, ingredients, and technology.
While this is Mars’ first venture into asking ideas from the crowd, it has had an open innovation team working on collaboration and shared IP since 2008. This may seem like a drastic change for a company that developed products like Snickers, Mars, and M&Ms decades ago, points out Marian Garcia of Kent Business School. The company has had four years to embrace open innovation, however. The key to making co-creation and open innovation work is an openness to outside ideas, and if the company’s R&D team learned from past collaboration efforts, it may very well gather and successfully implement a number of new ideas and solutions to current and future challenges.
This is a welcome development that mirrors the opening up of innovation in other food and beverage companies (not to mention R&D-intensive industries like pharmaceuticals). What remains to be seen is if Mars will harness its well-known brands more to encourage participation.