Co-creation done right: Getting the consumer to play for your team

Articles - 2017 / 06 / 19

Co-creation is a term that has been used a lot the last few years. However, many companies do not get the results they want from their investments in co-creation. One reason is that they fail to make full use of the biggest resource in those activities – the consumer.

We believe that consumers are the greatest source of inspiration for companies. Who is better equipped to make suggestions for new products, find ways to improve existing offerings, or come up with ideas for new concepts, if not the people that that will end up using them? Exciting innovations happen when the consumer becomes involved in development. This is called co-creation, and more and more brands and consumers engage in it. However, we see that many companies overlook the most important element in co-creation – namely collaboration. Here is some inspiration for how to best use consumer involvement when innovating your brand or offering.

The two-way feed

The most common mistake companies make when working with co-creation is limiting the interaction to a one-way feed. Often, the consumers are asked to share their ideas and reactions to stimuli with the company without getting anything in return. Getting input from consumers is certainly valuable, but building on true collaboration is usually more successful. Therefore, the most important element of co-creation is establishing a two-way feedback system between the company and the participating consumers.

The continuous feedback loop

To fully unleash the potential of co-creation, the feedback loop needs to be continuous. Instead of just involving consumers at one point they should be used as a feedback team throughout the development process – from ideation to tweaking to going to market. The company should try to build on the consumers’ initial ideas as well as their following feedback to further improve the offering. It is all about imagining, designing, building and improving an offering together with the consumers.

The few active participants that trump a thousand inactive ones

Another key element is the participants’ engagement level. While sourcing ideas of numerous people can be valuable, true co-creation requires that all collaborators actively contribute with their ideas and feedback. The objective is to achieve a high level of engagement and a good quality of responses. To do this, a community of relatively few and carefully selected individuals are preferred as it is easier to build a relationship and sense of ownership within the group.

When working with consumer co-creation, make sure to create a give and take relationship. The participating consumers should feel like they are receiving as much back from the company as they are giving. Do not simply ask them to supply ideas, but rather see them as your advisors that provide feedback of your work at every step of the process. By empowering them and treating them as part of your team, they are much more likely to become as invested in your offerings success as you are.

Read more about how to find your target audience in the digital landscape in our guide: “Putting the consumer at the center of  innovation”

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