Co-creation: Do you make the most out of it?

By Polina Zakharkina

The Missing Element

Consumers are a great source of inspiration for companies, because who is better equipped to do the following…

  • Make suggestions for new products
  • Find ways to improve existing offerings
  • Come up with ideas for exciting concepts

Companies seem to love the idea of including their consumers’ opinions in the way they shape their offerings. Resultantly, there has been a lot of buzz around co-creation lately. Co-creation is when the consumer takes on the role of a collaborator and becomes involved in practically every stage of development.

While it has become common practice to involve consumer opinions in product development today, there are few that make the most out of this method. There is often one very important element that is overlooked when companies seek to create new products or offers with the help of their consumers: the element of collaboration.

Co-creation Should be a Two-way Feed

The most commonly found weakness when attempting to work with co-creation is that only a one-way feed is established between company and consumer. The consumers’ supply their ideas or share their reactions to stimuli with the company. In turn, the company continues to develop their offering based on this input on their own. Simply sourcing ideas from consumers is valuable, but it is not enough to be considered as actual co-creation. The most important element of co-creation is establishing a two-way feedback system between the company and the participating consumers.

To fully unleash the potential of co-creation, the feedback loop needs to be continuous. The participating consumers should be used as a feedback team throughout the whole development process. They should not only be used as a source of creative ideas in the beginning, but also react, tweak and collaborate with the company in all stages of the process until the offering is ready to be launched. Only when the company starts building on the ideas they receive from their consumers and let the same consumers give feedback to further improve their offering do we have true co-creation.

A Few Active Co-creators Trump a Thousand Inactive Ones

Another key element of co-creation is participant’s engagement level. While sourcing ideas of numerous people has its merits, actual co-creation requires that all participants actively contribute their ideas and feedback. To get the quality of responses and engagement necessary during the collaborative process relatively few, carefully selected, individuals are preferred as it is easier to build a relationship and sense of ownership within the group.

The Typical Co-creation Process Consists of 4 Phases

  1. Explore: Deep-dive consumers’ behavior, drivers, frustrations and future aspirations within the category
  2. Workshop: Workshop within the project team to craft concept routes, create prototypes, product ideas and/or initiatives based on consumer-generated ideas
  3. Evaluate: Loop-back concepts, prototypes, product ideas and/or initiatives from workshop to the participating consumers to be re-tested and built upon further
  4. Repeat: Work with the co-creators until the offering is ready to go and be validated for crowd resonance (by for instance quantitative testing)

Digital Provides The Perfect Platform for Co-creation

In many ways, a digital platform can be ideal for your co-creation process. Seeing as the co-creation process generally spans over a long-time period, an online platform provides the perfect hub for ongoing engagement without geographical limitations. A digital platform allows the consumer to engage with the tasks wherever they are, whenever they feel like it. It gives them more time to reflect around the tasks leading to better ideas. It also enables them to write down and illustrate that brilliant idea without running the risk of forgetting it between sessions.

Three Key Benefits With Co-creation:

  • Integrating creative consumer voices into your product development process gives you access to fresh perspectives
  • Turning consumers into collaborators, rather than just using them as a source of ideas, creates more engagement among the participants to contribute compared to other research methods
  • By letting consumer recommendations shape nearly all aspects of the process, it gives your offering a higher chance of success once it reaches the market as it will be more aligned with consumer needs and expectations

Empower Consumers to Unleash The Full Potential of Co-creation

If you chose to engage in co-creation with your consumers, remember that what makes co-creation powerful is the collaborative element. Make sure to create a give and take relationship, where the participating consumers feel that they are receiving as much back from the company as they are giving. Don’t ask them to supply ideas, see them as your advisors that provide feedback of your work at every step of the process. By empowering your consumers they are much more likely to become as invested in your offerings success as you are.

By Polina Zakharkina, Senior Insight Analyst, LynxEye Brand Consultants

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