Why Social Listening Reinvents Product Development: Insights from Gravity Products & Big Spaceship



“With social listening, it isn’t enough to simply pay attention to what people are saying.” — Victor Pineiro, SVP, Social Media, Big Spaceship


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In any business, moving from product idea and development to actual revenue is a challenge. Companies often forget the readily available (and sometimes, “free”) data sources and ideas that speak to what consumers want.

Marketing experts from Gravity Products and Big Spaceship shared how they went from idea to development at their “In Market, Using Social and Communities to Develop New Products” session.

A heavy success

Mike Grillo, Co-Founder and President of Gravity Products, shared the story of the Gravity Blankets, went from a successful Kickstarter campaign to their best-selling product, a revolution in sleep.

The company first did their research on the science of sleep, anxiety, and stress. After testing and product development, they turned to crowd-funding to help generate revenue and spread the word.

With over $4.7 million raised from 26,000 backers in 75 countries, the Gravity Blanket became the nineteenth largest Kickstarter campaign of all time.

“Kickstarter gave us data on purchase intent, and the ability to test crowd messaging,” Grillo shared. This success led to media features including TIME Magazine and big-name celebrity endorsements. The term “gravity blanket” has also become synonymous with the weighted blanket.

“If you listen to your community and test the hypothesis, there’s a real opportunity to help devleop a product, that doesn’t necessarily take a whole team or investment,” Grillo finished. “It really takes a lean-in approach.”

Gamification and social listening

Victor Pineiro of Big Spaceship talked about the gamification of children’s “fun,” using examples of popular cultural toys and games — and how there is serious profit, even in fun.

“There’s been a big shift in the toy-making industry. Board games are being played to really share a moment online, and suddenly that markets the whole game for the company,” Pineiro says. “Games not being played to play games anymore, but games are being played to share.”

For Big Spaceship, this shift involved studying fun on the Internet and in culture, as it happens in real-time. How do you listen to fun online?

Take YouTube’s vast “challenge culture” — there are at least 35 million YouTube challenge videos being created monthly, from hot pepper and ice buckets, to Tide PODS and cinnamon challenges.

In effect, these are all huge marketing opportunities. People are filming themselves attempting (with mixed results) a challenge, essentially for free, and in turn helping to put a brand’s name out there.

How do companies quantify these challenge videos, and what can consumers learn from that?

“With social listening, it isn’t enough to simply pay attention to what people are saying,” says Piniero. “We have to add a level of trend watching. Not just figuring out the next big toy or game, not putting a challenge in a box and selling it — think bigger. Look at general cultural and societal trends and bring the community together.”

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