First there was Dell
, then Starbucks
and now there is Chrysler
. Chrysler is preparing to launch a private, online discussion forum to gather customer's opinions on everything from product design to marketing. The forum is set to launch next month, and Advertising Age reports
that with the new site,
Chrysler expects to have an advisory panel of some 2,000 people willing to participate online once or twice weekly, VP-Chief Marketing Officer Deborah Wahl Meyer told Advertising Age. "It's a different way to be close to our customers and our future customers" without doing physical focus groups, she said. "We call it on-demand customer collaboration."
Chrysler clearly understands they need to bridge the disconnect between their company and what their customers want. I applaud Chrysler for taking this step; but keeping the discussion limited and private seems to be a missed opportunity. Unless this is the first building block of constructing a larger social media initiative, they may end up selling their own efforts short. Nevertheless, score one more for the big brands coming around to realize that the web is a powerful listening tool.