Today, it is all about sharing.  The empowered consumer is seeking a more active role beyond consumption and co-creation enables them to be collaborative members within the product development process.

This is a two-way process with benefits on both sides.  Involving consumers generates new insights and ideas with improved new product success, at the same time active involvement ensures that customers feel valued which in turn increases their satisfaction and loyalty levels.

Co-creation is happening across all areas of society.  A recent example is Coldplay jumping on social media to ask fans to come up with designs for their new album artwork. Kaiser Chiefs went one further and asked fans to choose ten tracks from a selection of twenty, design the cover art, and even sell copies of their creation to earn a commission.

Watertalkers is a community project set up by UK water companies to enable consumers to bring fresh answers to important water services challenges, gathering views to get new perspectives and ideas.

Lego have set up a hub, where customers are invited to share their ideas for a new Lego set. These ideas are reviewed by a team at Lego and could make their way into production.  And Nivea, the body care specialist, have created a co-creation strategy to gain more insight from their lead users about their beauty products, using footage from the feedback as the basis for their advertising campaigns.

Burberry and Starbucks have both provided community platforms allowing their consumers to connect with each other to comment on issues as diverse as garment design, store layout and  marketing campaigns through to corporate social responsibility .  Monitoring the conversations that occur has enabled the brands themselves to be increasingly co-developed with the community

Co-creation is not a new idea.  The concept has been around since the Internet increased the potential for companies to solicit feedback from outside sources, and social media provided consumers with a vehicle to communicate with other consumers and companies around the world.  Despite this, co-creation has only really developed now that the technology has become available to manage the process and the outcome efficiently.

Although there have been some widely publicised co-creation successes by big brand names, the challenge remains as to how to attract the necessary number and calibre of co-creators required to run a successful campaign.

Brands such as Starbucks, Nivea, Lego understood that it was important to recruit people who actually liked their brand and were willing to engage on a proactive level.  This means actively segmenting customer data to target a willing audience, then tailoring the communications to explain a co-creation process in a way that taps into the different motivations.

Whilst the obvious motivation is compensation, a Mckinsey study of 10 co-creation projects found that the largest percentage of participants (28 percent) were driven by the curiosity and a desire to learn.  This was closely followed by entertainment and social play (26 percent), together with an interest in building skills (26 percent).  A remaining 20 percent were driven by recognition and rewards.

Ultimately,  a cross-section of inputs is required and companies must run multiple appeals in order to generate the necessary participation levels to run a successful campaign.

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