How some brands are co-creating along with consumers?


Imagine a scenario, when your favorite sports brand seeks your opinion in developing their next running shoes or your car manufacturer invites you to his design workshop to help design their new vehicle.

Is this Fantasy? Well Not exactly…

This is a reality today as more and more organizations are seeking the opinion of their consumers and involving them in new product development. Organizations are aware that unless they build something that the consumers are involved in, it would become very difficult to hold on to their customer base.

The scenario is simple, there is intense competition in the marketplace and all brands are clamouring for mind share due to an explosion in the number of Consumer Channels from TV to Social Media.

The concept was given by the late CK Prahlad and Venkat Ramaswamy in their book The Future of Competition”. They discussed in the book how co creation would become the new normal and going forward companies would actively involve their consumers in new product development.

Once a consumer group has been involved in the development of the new product or service then the propensity for the product to succeed is much higher.

Let’s look at some examples of how this has been done and why does a co-created product have more chances of succeeding in the market place.

Well one of the most visible campaigns in this space was run by PepsiCo brand Lays. Lays launched a campaign in 2009 called ‘Give us your delicious flavor’ which invited the consumers to send in their recipes for chips.

Layscrowdsourcingcommercial Crowdsourcing done perfectly !

The flavours were to be judged by experts and top four flavors would be rolled into a national campaign and a winner would be chosen by popular vote. The final was won by Sagar and his Mango flavored lays chip was added to the existing flavors by Lays. For more on the Lays campaign please refer Give Us Your Dillicious Flavour .

Well this works well in the FMCG space, how about something more technical?

Surprisingly it was Nokia way back in 2005 which was one of the first to invite consumers to design their next big phone. Called the Concept Lounge, it was held in the Benelux countries and invited consumers, designers and enthusiast to design the next cool phone. The contest was won by a Turkish designer for his novel wrist watch phone.

In the same year Electrolux held the design lab 2005 which invited entries from more than 88 countries including India. The target was to design household appliances which would be fashionable in 2020.

Many other categories from Coffee making, Jewelry Design, Cosmetics, Boating building to name a few have been actively involving consumers in their development process.

So why are companies doing this?

I did come up with a few reasons and this is not an exhaustive list

  1. New Fresh ideas– The attempt it to look out for fresh ideas, something that the competition has not tried as yet.
  2. New Recruitment– Most companies feel that this is a good source of recruiting talented individuals from the market.
  3. Cost– It is cheaper to develop products through such forums rather than committing company resources to such an effort.
  4. Sense of Ownership– Once a user group has been involved in such an effort, there will be a sense of ownership and they are more likely to be loyal to the brand.

But above all this it is the thrill of seeing your design or product being accepted and bought by others and for the organizations it is journey towards creating a new product that is solving customer problem.

Comments are open!

  1. Siddharth Vishwakarma says

    Being a strong advocate of Consumer Behavior and Research, I would say that ultimately the products are to be used by the consumers and what better way to engage the consumers along with involving them in the product development.
    It paves the way for line extension.

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