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Heineken Ideas Brewery: People’s Insights Volume 1, Issue 18

In March 2012, Heineken launched Ideas Brewery , its first open innovation platform. Through it, innovators were invited to share ideas on challenges posed by the beer major. The first was on the future of sustainable beer packaging. Heineken was looking for ideas on sustainable materials, sustainable transportation and recycling.

This challenge runs till June, after which Heineken will launch more such efforts.

The challenge is open to residents of Austria, Brazil, Canada (excluding Quebec and Yukon), China, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Holland, Spain, UK and US (excluding California). The deadline for submission of entries for the first stage was May 8, 2012. Participants must be of legal purchasing age for alcohol in their country of residence.

In stage 1, participants were invited to sign up, create a profile and submit their ‘elevator pitch’ (150 words) with three supporting images.

The website said:

You can upload one to three images to explain your idea. This could either be a drawing, a mockup or a photograph. Anything that helps sell in your idea.

Additionally, participants could send a PDF with a detailed explanation. The pitch could also be uploaded on YouTube.

In the second stage, shortlisted participants will work with Heineken experts in a closed online innovation environment to refine the selected ideas. The second stage is slated to begin by May 29.

The jury – which includes innovation, sustainability and industrial design experts – will select a winner, who will receive $10,000. The winner will be announced in June 2012.

The jury includes Willem Van Waesberghe, global research and development director of Heineken; Jacquelyn Ottman, sustainability expert; and Janne Kytannen, creative director of Freedom of Creation.

Participants will be assessed on innovation, feasibility and votes gathered on social media. The ideas and solutions will need to be in at least one of the following categories:
1. Reuse and recycle packaging
Participants would ensure that a large amount of beer packaging will be re-used or re-cycled.
2. Discovering new packaging materials
Participants would suggest new materials that significantly improve the life cycle of packaging.
3. Transport
Participants would share ideas that maximise transport efficiency.

The first stage encourages participants to promote their ideas within their social networks as the number of votes accumulated will be a factor.
Partcipants can go to ‘submissions’ and click on the Facebook or Twitter button to share ideas.
Sharing ideas across social networks adds virality to the initiative as friends, family or supporters share the idea and comment on it. This sparks conversations on the web and augments a word-of-mouth buzz for the campaign and the brand.
Voters and supporters get a sense of ownership and belonging to the community as their activities help influence the results.

The idea portal fits well with the brand. Heineken aims to lead the industry by example, use natural resources with dignity and respect, and to entertain the rights and demands of employees, stakeholders and consumers.

Heineken is a proud, independent global brewer committed to surprising and exciting consumers with its brands and products, which is why it focuses on innovation.

Heineken is also committed to the responsible marketing and consumption of more than 200 international premium, regional, local and specialty beers and ciders, which include Amstel, Birra Moretti, Desperados, Foster’s, Heineken and Newcastle Brown Ale.

As mentioned by the CEO of Heineken in the Heineken Sustainability Report:

By living our values each and every day we have the opportunity to create a sustainable business that we will be able to pass on to future generations of employees.

Heineken is dedicated to sustainability and wants to become the world’s ‘greenest’ brewer. The strategy behind the ambition has been grouped into three pillars:
1. ‘Improve’ the environmental impact of their brands
2. ‘Empower’ people and communities associated with Heineken
3. ‘Impact’ the role of beer in society

Heineken embarked on its sustainability mission with the ‘A Better Future’ initiative. The 10-year journey is expected to have a significant impact on the way they bring products to market, improve and measure their environmental performance, contribute to communities and engage with internal and external stakeholders.

Heineken released a sustainability report for 2011 to showcase its building of a sustainable business. The report throws light on the green challenges Heineken faced and how it fared. In most cases, it passed the test. The challenges come under the umbrellas of ‘Improve’, ‘Empower’ and ‘Impact’.

Heineken’s global sunrise campaign made responsible consumption aspirational.
As mentioned in the sustainability report :

‘Sunrise’ reinforces the importance of staying in control and celebrates moderate consumption. The idea is to show that enjoying Heineken® in moderation can be an integral part of connecting and engaging with friends, meeting new people and exploring new experiences.

Launched during the festive season to maximise the relevance, attention and impact of the message, the campaign was seen by approximately 2.5 million adult consumers across the globe via HEINEKEN’s YouTube channel, Facebook fan page (34,000 visits and 27,000 interactions) and

This campaign is the next step in Heineken’s long-term commitment to encourage responsible consumption.

As mentioned on the Ideas Brewery website:

As the world’s most international brewer, we have a relentless focus on innovation. Great ideas and solutions can come from anywhere. From within our organisation or from outside. That’s why we invite you to join us and challenge the status quo.

Heineken believes that listening to new ideas and connections will strengthen its competing power and sustainability. It will also bridge the boundaries between the brand and its stakeholders.

Journalist Phil Drew in his article in ‘The Guardian’, ‘Can crowdsourcing really crack corporate sustainability?’ said:

Eroding the boundaries between that business and its consumer-supplier-stakeholder universe can only help to reinforce the ineluctable connection that all businesses today have with the changing environment around them.

While crowdsourcing is not new, social media has taken it to another level by turning consumers into brand advocates.

Brands like GE, Dell and Mahindra have crowdsourced ideas for the community and environment, while Starbucks and Coca-Cola have done it for the brand and the product.

While crowdsourcing for Heineken worked for a few, the initiative had a few sceptics.

Wesley, a blogger, loved the idea :

I’m not going to pretend to be the biggest Heineken fan in the world. As belgians, we are actually not suppposed to like Heineken at all, period ! However, I love their crowd sourcing campaign Heineken Ideas Brewery . Everybody is invited to share their thoughts on the future of packaging and what to do to make it all more ecological. Some of the ideas are quite wicked , but it’s just by thinking the impossible that the possible gets discoverd(sic).

Guardian reader, David, on the other hand, had his doubts :

Perhaps I’m old and cynical but the usual reason for trying outsourcing is that you hope some altruistic experts will solve problems for the company for free. Yes, instead of having to pay experts to do the thinking and come up with bright ideas, the crowd can do it for you for nothing.

Consumers will warm up to Heineken as they get a chance to contribute to its activities and for its transparent corporate sustainability effort. The brand will also benefit from deeper consumer insights and enjoy an enhanced reputation through its corporate citizenship and sustainability initiatives.

(MSLGROUP’s People’s Lab crowdsourcing platform and approach helps organizations tap into people’s insights for innovation, storytelling and change. The People’s Lab crowdsourcing platform also enables our distinctive insights and foresight approach, which consists of four elements: organic conversation analysis, MSLGROUP’s own insight communities, client-specific insights communities, and ethnographic deep dives into these communities.

As an example, 50+ thinkers and planners within MSLGROUP share and discuss inspiring projects on corporate citizenship, crowdsourcing and storytelling on the MSLGROUP Insights Network. Every week, we pick up one project and do a deep dive into conversations around it — on the MSLGROUP Insights Network itself but also on the broader social web — to distill insights and foresights. We share these insights and foresights with you on our People’s Insights blog and compile the best insights from the network and the blog in the iPad-friendly People’s Lab Quarterly Magazine, as a showcase of our capabilities.

As you can imagine, we can bring the same innovative approach to help you distill insights and foresights from conversations and communities. To start a conversation on how we can help you win with insights and foresights, write to Pascal Beucler at

Disclosure: Heineken is a MSLGROUP client in some markets, but MSLGROUP did not work on this project.

Originally posted on People’s Lab: People’s Insights blog.

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