Gets Consumers in Focus

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The focus group has long served as an invaluable marketing tool, and thinks its relaunched Web site gives companies an online way to conduct focus groups.

Brightidea Inc. operates a platform for the collection, aggregation and distribution of ideas. Beginning this month, the site has three primary sections: share, compete and develop. Of the most interest to marketers is the compete section, where companies can run sweepstakes to pick consumers' brains about new brand names and innovations for old items.

"It opens the door up to let the consumer become part of the marketing process," said Matt Greeley, CEO of, Menlo Park, CA.

The first company to take advantage of this offering was Sears for its Kenmore brand of appliances. From Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, consumers were asked to submit new ideas for the refrigerator of the future. The Icebox Innovation Contest offered a grand prize of $2,000 for the best idea. Second prize was $1,000, and third prize was $500.

To motivate participants to get others in on the action, the site offered an incentive to refer friends to the contest. If the first place idea was referred, the referrer would win $500 as well. The contest received 4,000 entries.

To kick off the contest, Brightidea sent an e-mail message to 20,000 people. It rented the list from, San Francisco.

One of the site's functionalities that was not featured in the Kenmore contest is its ability to allow consumers to rate one another's ideas. This can serve as a barometer for client companies.

The next contest will involve a major drug company looking for a name for a new product.

The site's share section gives consumers cash for sharing their ideas. "If you put in an idea about teaching your kid how to hit a baseball, every time someone looks at this, you earn royalties," Greeley said. "It helps us keep a healthy, active community centered on creative thinking."

Greeley would not reveal the amount granted for new ideas. Participants can check their totals at any time.

The site's develop section teaches consumers how to patent their ideas.

The site launched in January with just its share section. Before the relaunch, it averaged about 10,000 unique visitors a day.

Greeley expects this number to increase because of the new features. "We're building up a database of people who are interested in getting paid for their ideas," he said.

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