Several definitions of co-creation have previously been proposed. So, let’s begin instead with a basic definition of customer value: “Customer value is the satisfaction a consumer feels after making a purchase for goods or services relative to what she must give up to receive them.” From there, surveys show that customers most often value high-quality products with useful features and low prices, coupled with quick service and good post-sale customer support.

These aspects are crucial, but they only represent some of the foundational elements of the insightful Value Pyramid, as it is called by experts from the Harvard Business Review. Numerous other elements of the Value Pyramid, which represent emotional, life-changing and social impact aspects, are all even more deeply connected with the customer’s perception of “value” than the foundational elements. And how can we as market researchers unearth all those elements of value? There is only one way: co-creation

There’s no doubt that co-creation works, but you have to be sure that the co-creation methods you’re using are giving you the best value for your money. Here, we’ll address the methods you should be implementing to help you get the most value out of co-creation. 

Go beyond your customer base

Customers are, by default, the logical place to start asking questions about and working collaboratively with on new concepts. Non-customers, including those who were previously customers then changed their minds, as well as those who have no prior experience with the category, should also be included. Think expansively across the industry to tap into trade groups and conferences. Amazon book reviews, for example, are a highly underutilized resource. And don’t forget about social media! 

Speaking to customers is important but consider branching out to include demographics that may be outside of your usual market. This may expose new levels of thinking that your customers alone may not generate on their own. Moreover, going beyond your customer base to harness broader perspectives will help you maximize the value you get out of co-creation.

Engage your customers from start to finish

As they say, “It’s not over ‘til it’s over.” Many companies engaged in market research, and specifically in co-creation, fail to get the value out of their efforts because they elect to follow a one-and-done approach. In contrast, by talking to customers (and potential customers) throughout the process, from concept to launch, and then reconnecting with them some time after the launch, companies can reduce the costs and risks of product development. Staying plugged in to how your customers are feeling towards your product and brand over time keeps your efforts on track, preventing you from going so far down a wrong path that the efforts end up wasted and irreversible. Some approaches to consider include:

    • Utilizing qualitative research such as CrowdWeaving™ from KL Communications, so that your customers can generate their own ideas and pitch them. Not all will be feasible, but it is a valuable method of keeping your finger on the pulse of customer wishes.
    • Conducting surveys once the product has been developed but has not yet been launched. By doing so, you can confirm that the new product resonates as appealing and valuable within your target market. Think small scale at first and go online.
    • Diving into social media. User groups and customer reviews after the product has launched can help to gauge and monitor the overall sentiment. This could be a valuable resource for insights which will drive tweaks for future releases.
    • Applying the tenets of design thinking, where customers engage in co-creation directly with R&D. Parallel processing approaches enable R&D and product development to work on multiple iterations and multiple prototypes at the same time with the same user base. This way, product development can evolve in a streamlined and comprehensive manner. Presenting customers with alternatives helps product developers hone in on why certain features or design aspects are more compelling than others, and they can do so in real time. 

Methods matter

Like most things, technique can make all the difference. Co-creation, by design, is intended to be comprehensive and enable deep connections between the user group and designers. However, to get the most value out of co-creation, you need to be mindful of the methods used and set appropriate constraints. For example, co-creation was in full swing and wide open when Britain’s Natural Environment Research Council solicited public participation to name their new $287M polar research ship. The crowds rallied behind the now infamous name Boaty McBoatface, which was ultimately vetoed.

One way to negate the potential for a similar internet crowd-sourcing disaster is to partner with a company who has extensive practice with moderating and generating valuable insights. Crowdsourcing, which gathers data from the customer, is certainly useful. However, if you want to take it to the next level, you should consider CrowdWeaving to help you get the most value out of co-creation.  Specifically, co-creation, via the method of CrowdWeaving, generates ideas and inspiration amongst customers, clients, designers and other stakeholders who work collaboratively in real time to create a viable, successful product. 

When developing a new product or service, co-creation is a valuable tool that helps businesses, product developers, designers, market researchers and other experts connect with end-users and stakeholders. This connection is essential to answer the exam question, “Did we get it right?” where “it” may pertain to a product, messaging, service model or anything else. Co-creation taps deeply into how people feel about your brand, product or service. And, if done correctly, co-creation can yield new product insights, uncover potential distribution issues, focus messaging and more. Choose whichever agency or methodology that you like but be sure to go down that path informed and knowing how to get the most value out of co-creation.

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