Who Will Invest in the Customer Experience? Amateur Winemakers Will


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Crushpad (www.crushpadwine.com) enables customers to become winemakers. They facilitate the entire experience from sourcing the grapes, crushing them, making the wine, bottling it and labeling it. They will even help customer go commercial if they want to sell their wine.
Why to do people pay between $5,000 and $10,000 to make a barrel of their own wine? Why are they willing and eager to do the work? They want the experience and the gratification that comes with it.
Even in these recessionary times, people will invest in gratifying experiences. Crushpad’s revenues have been doubling every year since they started in 2004, including this past year.
Not only will customers invest in their own experiences, Crushpad has found they will invest in the business as well. They were looking for $5 million dollars to fund expansion and had offers from venture capital firms. Instead, they publicized an investment opportunity to their customer base. The response was so strong that they increased the amount to $9 million.
When founders decide to aggressively expand their business, they usually experience some trepidation: can we scale? Is the new thrust viable? Knowing you existing customers believe in you must be very comforting.

John Todor
John I. Todor, Ph.D. is the Managing Partner of the MindShift Innovation, a firm that helps executives confront the volatility and complexity of the marketplace. We engage executives in a process that tackles two critical challenges: envisioning new possibilities for creating and delivering value to customers and, fostering employee engagement in the innovation and alignment of business practices to deliver on the new possibilities. Follow me on Twitter @johntodor


  1. This is a great example of experiential marketing: involving the customer in an experience that bonds them to the brand. For many products, such as high tech and B2B, it would be impractical to involve customers in product manufacture, although more customization is available in recent years. On the other hand, Customer Experience Management (CEM) is more about preventing hassles for cutomers in the whole process of dealing with your brand. Touchpoint alignment, shared real-time access to customer information, innovation that considers the full experience spectrum, systemic process improvement, and living the brand promise throughout the enterprise. Both experiential marketing and CEM are worthwhile investments — the former for its brand equity building, and the latter for bottom line improvement as well as sustainable long-term brand equity impact.

    – Lynn Hunsaker, http://www.ClearAction.biz, ClearAction mentors executives for customer profitability through advocacy and churn/hassle prevention.

  2. Hi Lynn,

    I would agree that in most cases, it is hard to involved customers in B2B manufacturing. However, more and more companies, including B2B, are involving customers in co-creation of the product. Noika has added an interesting twist to this process. They host a community where customers are encouraged to spell-out functionality they would like to see added to their phone. Other customers post solutions.

    Your definition of CEM is a very common approach and is not unimportant. However, in my opinion, it leads organizations to focus on an inside-out mindset. If value comes from the experience of customers, I argue that they should take and outside (customer)-in (company) approach. This means companies have to start by understanding what customers value, how they make decision and what lights them up emotionally (or turns them off). From this bases, they can them turn their attention to preventing hassles or “engineering” the process of interacting with the brand.

    There is one more aspect that I think is very important that will come to light when companies determine what customers’ value and will reward with loyalty and commitment. Most of the above focuses on the buying process and maybe the service or support process. Well, it is increasingly clear that customers derive value in the consumption process – when they experience the product.

    By the way, I am glad you are taking a more active role in CustomerThink. You add an important blend of experience and insights.


    John I. Todor, Ph.D.
    Author of Get with it! The Hands on Guide to Using Web 2.0 in Your Business.


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