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Need new product ideas? Join the crowd.

Crowdsourcing helped Anheuser-Busch develop a brand geared toward craft beer tastes. It’ll help you brew something up, too.

A single person or team at Anheuser-Busch can't take all the credit for developing Black Crown – and that's exactly what the beer behemoth had in mind. The golden amber lager was developed based on a competition between company-brewmasters, along with consumer suggestions and tastings. In total, the project had more than 25,000 consumer-collaborators.

Crowdsourcing is becoming an effective and engaging way for companies of all sizes to innovate and refine products, while driving deeper customer and employee involvement with a brand.

Some tips: Ask employees at all levels to collaborate and submit their best thoughts. Review previous customer complaints for ways to improve. Announce a contest or competition on your website for top ideas. If your customer profile is young, contact your local university to set up an "innovation lab." If aiming for parents, set up shop in malls, with samples and surveys in hand. You get the idea.

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