Established and emerging businesses alike have the primary goal to maximize their profits and minimize expenses. Mind blowing information, right? While it is a simple concept, there are countless variables that can affect a company’s bottom line. We can say with certainty that revenue is vitally dependent on the success of a company’s products and services. The best way businesses can differentiate their offerings in crowded markets is by listening to and meeting their customers’ needs, and giving them a voice in the product development process. In other words, co-creating with customers.
Engaging directly with customers is at the core of co-creation. With traditional market research, a business will present products, services, or concepts to customers to determine strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement. These initiatives tend to be more reactive, however. While this can come out organically in a co-creation session, the main purpose of a co-creation exercise is to give consumers a chance to generate and collaborate on potential product ideas that otherwise would not have come to light. Brands set realistic criteria for these sessions and use their product expertise to guide consumers, but the customer is essentially given creative license to come up with ideas and inspiration that can lead to true innovation. By the end of a co-creation session, participating brands should be able to walk away with a highly desired and unique product, initiative, or idea. This is a key difference between traditional qualitative research and co-creation.
Now, how can a brand co-create, in particular in a way that’s cost effective yet provides invaluable actionable customer insights? One such way is via a co-creation insights community. These market research online communities allow for an ongoing dialog between brands and consumers using online one-on-one interviews and/ or forum type discussions, as well as co-creation methodologies such as CrowdWeaving™. While traditional market research tends to be more linear in nature, an online community – especially one with a focus on co-creation – creates a non-linear dialog loop where a brand can not only hear the voice of its customer; it can gain inspiration from its most loyal customers to create products and services with them in mind. These products and services have a higher potential for success because of this.
If you are considering an online co-creation community as your primary source of, or supplement to, your company’s market research efforts, you will need customers to co-create with. These co-creators should represent an array of targeted customer audiences, as each have specific and relevant needs that may differ from others. Customers within your target markets are often very willing to ideate and share feedback on the products and services they use, allowing your business to better understand their needs and experiences. The more segments you can target in your co-creation community, the more insights you gain from multiple customer types.
For example, Company A has just concluded an ideation activity in its online co-creation community. They now have a unique idea for a product that their target market likes and has expressed an interest in purchasing. Company A’s product development team pitches the idea to relevant higher ups, who approve the proposal and move forward with the idea and start building it into a concept for a new product. This idea, constructed by bringing company experts and creative and interested customers, is already on its way to having a net positive on the balance sheet. Co-creation is paying off.
If you are looking for a unique methodology that will provide key insight into your customers’ needs and motivations, co-creation is a fit for you. Your brand will not only benefit from communicating with its customers in new ways, but it will also allow your company to create more useful products that solve actual customer needs. Brands that utilize co-creation communities are inevitably more closely connected to their customers and can differentiate themselves from the competition by portraying themselves as innovative, empathetic and customer-friendly.