Digital technology and social media is changing the very nature of marketing and customer research. Britain's best practitioner is probably this firm...
Okay, you've found a particularly quirky member of the Wonga Future 50 (see also Little Riot and Kinetique!). For two reasons.
Morphsuits' product is pretty bonkers. You've probably seen these stretchy all-in-one coloured bodysuits in the crowd of a sporting event or out on the town. The firm, founded by university pals Fraser Smeaton, Gregor Lawson and Ali Smeaton, now sells £10m-worth of these suits a year, and they bagged funding from the new Business Growth Fund earlier this year.
But it's the second reason that ought to catch your eye. It's the way the firm has integrated Facebook into its very core. There are lessons here for any business with a major market in its sights.
Morphsuits uses Facebook to research, market and distribute its product.
The firm has more than one million “Likes” on Facebook. This army of fans designs the suits, and provides focus groups on the firm's strategy. When Morphsuits wants to find a distributor in a new territory, it canvasses its fans to find partners. It incentivises fans to promote the product. When Hallowe’en or Christmas is coming up, Morphsuits provides a blank template and a reward for a suit design. The winner gets recognition as the designer, and gets a free suit. Fans provide hundreds of designs, and then vote on their favourite. It takes away the need for a trend-interpreter or a marketing middleman.
By using Facebook, Morphsuits has grown a global distribution network and swollen sales, for what is admittedly a niche product, to £3.4m profit. Still not bad for a company founded in 2009.
We've never seen a firm run like this before. Facebook fans operate as Morphsuits' board, non-execs, marketing department and export team.
It's a model of how firms can harness social networks for commercial gains. For it's pioneering work in this alone, Morphsuits deserves to be in the Wonga Future 50 (that £3.4m profit didn't harm, though).